Treatment with human stem cells has allowed mice crippled by a version of multiple sclerosis (MS) to walk again after less than two weeks.

Scientists admit to being astonished by the result and believe it opens up a new avenue of research in the quest for solutions to MS. Scotland has one of the highest incidences of MS in the world.

Professor Tom Lane, from the University of Utah, who led the US team, recalled: "My postdoctoral fellow Dr Lu Chen came to me and said 'the mice are walking'. I didn't believe her."

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The genetically engineered mice had a condition that mimics the symptoms of human MS.

They were so disabled they could not stand long enough to eat and drink on their own and had to be hand-fed.

The scientists transplanted human neural stem cells into the animals expecting them to be rejected and provide no benefit.

Instead within 10 to 14 days, the mice had regained motor skills and were able to walk. Six months later, they showed no sign of relapsing.