Multiple Sclerosis Program

ms_imageThe Neural Stem Cell Institute (NSCI), and its parent non-profit organization the Regenerative Research Foundation are discovering new ways to improve central nervous system (CNS) repair. Our basic research programs, funded by competitive peer review funds from the NIH, NYS, and the Christopher Reeve Foundation, revealed a new therapeutic strategy to repair CNS nerve tract damage. StemBeads® is a novel bioengineered method to stimulate stem cells lying dormant in the CNS.  StemBeads® activate endogenous CNS stem cells, reawakening them from dormancy to promote nerve repair and regeneration. In many animals, CNS stem cells normally mediate repair and regeneration but in mammals, like mice or humans, CNS stem cells are inhibited and remain dormant after injury. The application of StemBeads® with time release capability for CNS stem cell growth factors caused recovery of function in mice with spinal nerve tract injuries similar to those seen in Multiple Sclerosis (MS). We plan to use StemBeads® in experiments that use more direct models for MS.

In MS, the insulating myelin around nerve fiber axons is lost and the oligodendrocyte cells that constitute the myelin sheath die and cause scarring within the nerve. Lost myelin and scarring cause nerve signal conduction to slow which in turn causes loss of muscle control. Although the course of MS varies greatly between individuals, and symptoms can come and go, it is clear that the neurological problems uniformly arise from oligodendrocyte loss and scar formation. Currently, there is no regenerative therapy for MS and the limited benefit of available medications must be balanced with side effect profiles. A fresh approach for patients is to develop regenerative therapies for MS that stimulate nerve repair. Our research has shown that biodegradable StemBeads® activate resident CNS stem cells in spinal cord injured mice to produce oligodendrocytes and reduce CNS scarring. StemBeads® applied to the injury site improve function in mice with injured spinal nerve tracts that mirror the injuries seen in MS. We now propose to apply these exciting findings directly to MS by applying StemBeads® to animal models of MS to determine their effect on remyelination and nerve function, work that can translate directly into beneficial therapy for MS patients. We are poised to accomplish this defined and critical project, and now seek funding necessary to complete this important work.

The NSCI is the first independent stem cell research institute in the USA. This not-for-profit 501©3 organization was co-founded by Sally Temple, Ph.D. who helped discover and define nervous system stem cells. Dr. Temple has recruited highly talented scientists working to translate discovery research into new therapies for central nervous system repair, and Jeffrey Stern, Ph.D., M.D., a physician-scientist who carries out research and cares for patients. At NSCI, our staff of 30 highly talented researchers works in a state of the art facility to translate discovery research into therapy for central nervous system repair. We are uniquely positioned to make headway in this exciting research, and your gift will enable us to take the defined steps needed to generate greatly needed novel therapeutics.