KeywordsMultiple sclerosis and neuroinflammation, stem cells, medical ethics, remyelination, clinical trials
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AbstractThe availability of multiple disease-modifying medications with regulatory approval to treat multiple sclerosis illustrates the substantial progress made in therapy of the disease. However, all are only partially effective in preventing inflammatory tissue damage in the central nervous system and none directly promotes repair. Cell-based therapies, including immunoablation followed by autologous haematopoietic stem cell transplantation, mesenchymal and related stem cell transplantation, pharmacologic manipulation of endogenous stem cells to enhance their reparative capabilities, and transplantation of oligodendrocyte progenitor cells, have generated substantial interest as novel therapeutic strategies for immune modulation, neuroprotection, or repair of the damaged central nervous system in multiple sclerosis. Each approach has potential advantages but also safety concerns and unresolved questions. Moreover, clinical trials of cell-based therapies present several unique methodological and ethical issues. We summarize here the status of cell-based therapies to treat multiple sclerosis and make consensus recommendations for future research and clinical trials.