There is hope that this new treatment will put a stop to Multiple Sclerosis.
A small study has said that aggressive chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant can halt the progression of multiple sclerosis (MS).
Roughly 100,000 people in the UK have MS. Multiple sclerosis is an incurable neurological disease and usually leaves people in need of a wheelchair. MS causes the immune system to attack the lining of nerves in the brain and spinal cord. The majority of patients are diagnosed in their 20s and 30s.
The study was published in The Lancet and examined 24 people, between the ages of 18 and 50, in Canadian Hospitals. Although one patient died due to the chemotherapy, the other 23 had amazing results, with the treatment greatly reducing the progression of the disease.
A pre-existing treatment for MS is for the immune system to be suppressed with chemotherapy and then after this stem cells are introduced to the patient’s bloodstream. It is known as an autologous haematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT).
However, in this study, the Canadian researchers took it further, not only did they suppress the immune system, they went on to completely destroy it. They then rebuilt is with stem cells they took from the patients blood, these cells hadn’t developed the flaws that trigger Multiple Sclerosis as they are at such an early stage. All the patients who took part had a “poor prognosis” and had also previously undergone the standard immunosuppressive therapy that had not controlled the MS. Over the 13 years, the surviving patients have had no relapses or new disease activity.
An MS Society spokeswoman has said this type of treatment does “offer hope” but also comes with “significant risks”. Dr Mark Freedman, who was lead author of the study, has admitted there were limitations to the study. For example, the small sample size, and there was no control group to compare with those who were treated.
“Larger clinical trials will be important to confirm these results.”
“Since this is an aggressive treatment, the potential benefits should be weighed against the risks of serious complications associated with HSCT and this treatment should only be offered in specialist centres experienced both in multiple sclerosis treatment and stem cell therapy, or as part of a clinical trial.”
Many respected medical professionals have spoke out on the treatment, saying that although it is aggressive and with substantial risk, this is a rapidly evolving treatment that offers hope to a lot of those suffering with multiple sclerosis.