Stem cell treatment involves topical injections and requires only a few hours stay at one of the 12 international clinics. In a typical MS case, there are multiple injections of the contents of a single vial of stem cells. These are injected into the skin/fat layer over the spine and one or two seriously affected areas of the body (e.g. into the vein of an unusable hand, or into the skin near an eye with visual problems.) They are not injected into the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) itself. However, the exact way the stem cells are administered is specific to each MS patient. The focus is on areas of greatest need. Cells are injected into specific sites of demyelination as indicated by a MRI report and into areas of greatest clinical need.
This method of Patient Specific Injection Protocol appears to deliver the fastest and strongest responses recorded.
If there is damage to the brain – stem cells are injected into the skin using the surface anatomical markers of various regions of the brain. For example if there is damage to the cerebellum, the injection of stem cells would be subcutaneously over the occipit (back of the head). There are no risks involved in this. The stem cells are able to reach damaged areas in the brain by traveling through the bloodstream. This is very straightforward as cord blood stem cells are derived from blood. One of their primary functions is to migrate to sites of need in the body through a process called homing. With homing to the brain, the blood brain barrier opens up to accept stem cells as it does for any other blood cell. In addition, a drip can be given intravenously an hour before the stem cells treatment to cause a slight dehydration of the brain making the barrier more receptive.
In MS, the damage in the brain and spinal cord does not follow a predictable pattern. Also, the findings of plaques shown on an MRI scan do not necessarily correlate with the degree of clinical severity. This makes the process of injecting directly into the brain matter or spinal fluid problematic as well as incredibly risky. For these reasons the stem cells are injected into the skin over the spine and brain and not into it.