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Int J MS Care. 2019 Jul-Aug;21(4):185-193. doi: 10.7224/1537-2073.2018-102.

Perspectives About Time Frames in Stem Cell Research for Multiple Sclerosis: "Time Is Brain".



Stem cell research has been a focus of inquiry in the field of neurology for nearly 3 decades and has led to much hope for people with multiple sclerosis (MS). Previous studies, however, demonstrate that information about the pace of developments in the stem cell arena is less accessible than are representations of potential benefits.


To explore the understanding and perspectives of adult patients with MS and MS clinicians about the time frames associated with stem cell research, we conducted semistructured interviews with 20 patients with MS across Canada and 15 clinicians who specialize in MS. Patients who participated did not have any previous stem cell interventions. Interviews were analyzed for recurring themes and individual variations using the constant comparative approach.


We found that patients with MS have a limited understanding about the time that it takes for stem cell research to reach the clinic. In parallel, they express a desire to know more than they do about the translational process. Clinicians offer strategies to address patients' questions about the pace of stem cell research and to promote informed hope about experimental interventions.


These results underscore opportunities to promote transparency in clinical discourse about the pace of stem cell research for MS and other progressive neurologic diseases.


Clinical communication; Ethics; Multiple sclerosis (MS); Neuroethics; Qualitative research; Stem cell research

Conflict of interest statement

Dr. Traboulsee discloses relationships with Biogen, Teva, Roche, Merck/EMD Serono, Sanofi Genzyme, Chugai (consulting fee); Sanofi Genzyme (speakers' bureau); and Chugai, Roche, Sanofi Genzyme (contracted research [principal investigator]). The other authors declare no conflicts of interest.

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