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A Manhattan clinic is dramatically changing the lives of people who battle multiple sclerosis. The treatment involves patients who use their own stem cells to fight the disease. One young mother told Fox 5 that she is already seeing results.
Vicky Gill cherishes her wedding video because it helps her remember what it's like to walk without pain. Not long after this video was taken, Gill was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. She was just 24. The mother of two young daughters was trying to keep up, but the disease was progressing. Eventually, Gill couldn't walk on her own.
Determined to find a better treatment, Vicky found came to the Tisch MS Research Center of New York on the Upper West Side and met Dr. Saud Sadiq, who started the center in 2006 and dedicated his life to treating and researching the disease.
Dr. Sadiq explains that M.S. is a problem with the electrical system with the brain and spinal cord. That results in weakness in your legs, bladder, and bowl function, as well as tingling pain, and numbness. It can affect your brain function, too.
Some 400,000 people have M.S. in the United States and 2.5 million around the world. There is no cure. But groundbreaking research is happening right in this lab. The team at the Tisch MS Research Center of New York is helping reverse the disability in a way that has never been done before.
Dr. Sadiq said they are doing an FDA-approved stem cell trial that uses the patient's own stem cells. He explained that they take stem cells from the patient's bone marrow and inject them into the spinal fluid. The hope is to regenerate the insulation material.
A video shows doctors extracting stem cells from the patient's bone marrow. A large needle goes into the chest or hip. Doctors then aspirate, or suction, a lifetime supply of stem cells in about 30 seconds. 20 patients are part of the study. Vicky is one of them; she had the procedure done.
In a process unique to Tisch MS, researchers in the lab harvest stem cells from the bone marrow and manipulate them into brain-like stem cells. The results have been promising: seven of 10 patients have shown signs of improvement, Dr. Sadiq said. Now Vicky can walk without a cane for some time; her legs are getting stronger.
The study will continue through April and the findings will be submitted to the FDA. Dr. Sadiq hopes to one day bring relief to other patients.
Vicky says that she can envision a future when she walks again; maybe even walking her daughters down the aisle one day.
Because this is a clinical trial, there is no cost to receive Dr. Sadiq's stem cell treatment.