A major clinical trial will investigate whether stem cells can be safely used to treat multiple sclerosis (MS), it has been revealed.

If suitable, this new technique could effectively enable to slow, stop or even reverse the damage MS causes to the brain and spinal cord.

The trial will be based on 150 patients, all coming from various European countries and is set to start later this year.

The team behind the new programme is confident the use of stem cells will lead to great advance, possibly leading to a new treatment.

"There is very strong pre-clinical evidence that stem cells might be an effective treatment." Dr Paolo Muraro told the BBC from Imperial College London.

Sir Richard Sykes, chair of the UK Stem Cell Foundation, said Dr Muraro's research was the first of its kind to take place in the UK.

"Given the high incidence of MS in the UK in comparison to other countries, I am delighted that we have at last progressed stem cell research to this stage, which will bring much-needed hope to so many people affected by this devastating condition."

The process will involve researchers collecting stem cells from the bone marrow of patients, which they will then grow in their laboratory before re-injecting them into the patients' blood.

Scientists explain that then, they expect the stem cells to make their way to the brain where they will hopefully be able to repair the damage caused by MS.

The research has been part-funded by the UK's MS Society, after concern over the availability of unproven stem cell treatments, grew, raising questions about the new clinics and their treatments.

According to studies by the MS Society, more and more people leaving with the decease, which is not yet curable, started to travel abroad to be treated in overseas stem cell clinics which claim to cure long-term conditions in exchange for large amounts of money.

However as the Society warns, there is as of yet no proven stem cell therapy available for MS anywhere in the world.

MS is the most common neurological condition to affect young people in the UK, affecting 100,000 people all in all in the country, against a total of three million globally.

The condition is caused by the body's own immune system attacking and damaging a substance called myelin in the brain and nerve cells.

The myelin damage then interfere with the messages sent from the brain to the body which causes a number of physical symptoms that gradually become more and more important. Amongst the symptoms are sight loss, bladder and bowel problems, muscle stiffness and eventually physical disability.

While treatments helping to alleviate the symptoms are available, they do prevent the progression of the condition.