Scientists from Imperial College London in UK  are planning a clinical study to test a stem cell treatment in upto 150 patients with multiple sclerosis across Europe.

The trial, led by Dr Paolo Muraro from Imperial College London, is reportedly set to begin later this year. People involved in the study are saying that it’s the first trial of its kind to test the potential of stem cells to treat the neurological disorder.

The plan is to harvest stem cells from the bone marrow of participants, grow them in a lab, and then implant them in multiple sclerosis patients. Researchers are hoping that the cells might even reverse some of the nerve damage caused by the chronic condition, which impacts about 100,000 people in the U.K. and 3 million patients globally, according to a BBC report.

“Stem cells have great potential to treat MS. The effect we are looking to achieve will mean fewer relapses, stop the progression of neurological dysfunction and even reduce disability,” said Dr Paolo Muraro.

 

It’s likely to be a few years before the trial yields any results, but there are a bevy of biotechs that might be interested in this approach to treating MS if it yields good safety and efficacy data. Existing drugs against MS are intended to slow the progression of the debilitating disease, but companies like Biogen Idec ($BIIB), the worlds largest maker of multiple sclerosis drugs, have their eyes on potential ways to heal some of the nerve damage caused by the illness.

The research has been part-funded by the UK’s MS Society, which is concerned about the availability of unproven stem cell treatments.

”Stem cells hold tremendous potential as a future treatment option for people with MS,” Simon Gillespie, chief of the MS Society, which is a partial backer of the study, told The Telegraph. “We are delighted to be funding this world-leading piece of research which shows the power of an international research collaboration and joint working between charities.”