Multiple Sclerosis is a progressive disease of the central nervous system (brain, spinal cord and optic nerve) that interferes with the brain's ability to send and receive messages. It is believed to be a result of immune-system dysfunction. Inflammation occurs in the breakdown of myelin, the protective insulation surrounding the nerve fibers of the central nervous system. Myelin is destroyed and replaced by scars of hardened patches of tissue. When the myelin is damaged, nerve impulses are not quickly and efficiently transmitted.
Symptoms of multiple sclerosis vary widely and it affects twice as many women as men. They may include:
- Impaired vision
- Loss of balance and muscle coordination
- Slurred speech
- Tremors and stiffness
- Bladder and bowel problems
- Difficulties with gait (balance or walk), and in severe cases, paralysis.
While there is currently no treatment available to cure MS, adult stem cell therapy is a promising new approach to addressing the disease cycle. Okyanos provides the opportunity to address debilitating MS symptoms while targeting nerve cell repair by making use of the powerful healing mechanisms of stem cells present in your adipose (fat) tissue.
Stem Cell Therapy for MS: How Does it Work?
Your body fat contains a plentiful source of adult stem cells known as mesenchymal stem cells, or MSCs. These powerful healing cells not only stimulate nerve tissue repair, but help to immediately calm inflammation and prevent further nerve cell death. MSCs have been seen in clinical research to migrate to damaged myelin zones of the brain tissue and repair these protectors of the CNS.
In addition, MSCs also have the ability to detect changes in the body which are causing pain or dysfunction, and to respond and communicate with the local environmental needs to provide the correct tools needed for healing. Simply put, adult stem cell therapy can immediately address the debilitating symptoms while getting to work on a more long-term strategy of healing and repair. Adult stem cells are commonly referred to as “repair cells” for this ability to heal injured tissues, organs or body parts, their primary functions being:
- Decreased inflammation
- Stimulated cell and tissue regeneration
- Prevention of further cell death
- Reduction of scar tissue that prevents normal organ function
- Creation of new blood vessels
Doctors at Okyanos utilize a specifically developed Okyanos protocol for opening up the blood brain barrier to help deliver stem cells directly to the brain; a technique that has been proven effective in independent studies This enables doctors to target your stem cells inside the brain to re-establish blood flow and repair damaged nerve cells (neurons) as well as target the restoration of myelin, halting the future progression of symptoms. Improvements that have been seen in MS patients treated with stem cells include a halt in the progression of lesions, as confirmed by MRI.
- Increased energy
- Improved memory
- Better balance and coordination
- Improved gait and mobility
- Increased sexual function
- Reduced medications
Watch our video, Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Marc Penn, on stem cell therapy and MS:
Stem cell treatment at Okyanos is a minimally invasive, same-day outpatient procedure. Though recovery can and does vary from patient to patient, our protocols are designed and carried out with the goal of keeping “downtime” to a minimum. A general overview of the procedure is as follows:
- First, water-assisted fat harvesting is done to obtain a sufficient amount of adipose (fat) tissue.
- The unique blend of stem and regenerative cells which exist in the adipose tissue are then isolated and prepared for delivery using a proprietary, closed, sterile, fully automated CGMP cell processing system. In about 65 minutes, the highly potent SVF is ready for direct injections and IV infusions.
- Before stem and regenerative cell infusion begins, mannitol, which is a sugar, is administered to facilitate the cells crossing the blood brain barrier for a potentially more effective cell delivery.
- In accordance with the individualized treatment plan prepared for each patient, adult stem and regenerative cells are then delivered intravenously.
The Best Care & Safety
Treatment timeframes are usually three days and may vary slightly depending on the personalized plan:
- Day 1: Pre-operative session includes an office visit with the medical staff for a final detailed review of the patient’s treatment plan and answer any questions from the patient and family members.
- Day 2: The patient undergoes treatment and briefly rests in our comfortable facility before being escorted back to their hotel for the evening.
- Day 3: Post-operative session involves a brief physical at Okyanos and a discharge plan discussion. The physician reviews the post treatment recommendations, the follow up communication plan and clears the patient to go home.
For a more detailed understanding of what you can expect, watch our video series with Gretchen Dezelick, RN and Director of Clinical Operations:
For a detailed understanding of stem cell safety at Okyanos, watch our video below.
National Institutes of Neurological Disorders & Stroke, NIH
Medline Plus, National Library of Medicine
Johns Hopkins Multiple Sclerosis Center