MS patient to take part in pioneering experiment

Posted: January 20, 2014 at 8:43 pm

Eleven years ago, Megan Quinn had just gotten married and was the picture of health.

"I used to run five miles a day. All of a sudden on my third mile, I started dragging my foot and I didn't understand. I thought, I'm just getting old and I'm getting tired. I was 27 years old," she said. "Nothing ever clicked to me that something was wrong."

The diagnosis was multiple sclerosis.

Multiple sclerosis, or MS, is an autoimmune disease where the body attacks itself and damages myelin, the protective covering surrounding nerve cells. With that insulation compromised, the nerves deteriorate and can cause a wide range of symptoms including vision problems, fatigue and weakness. The disease affects as many as 350,000 Americans.

"For the past year I've had a really bad time with this disease, just with my hip not working. One night I woke up and I couldn't feel either of my legs," Quinn said.

"Right now, my biggest problem is my hamstring. I cannot get my hamstring to cooperate when I have to walk, so that's my battle right now," she said.

Current treatments only try to stop progression of the disease. Quinn is about to test a new approach: using stem cells designed to actually make MS patients better.

Stem cells can be morphed into any cell in the body. Patients like Quinn have bone marrow removed and the stem cells inside are then changed in the kind of stem cells found in the brain and spinal cord.

Those cells will then be injected directly into the spinal cord. The hope is that they will repair the insulation and perhaps even the wires underneath.

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MS patient to take part in pioneering experiment

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