Recent research indicates that stem cell transplants might provide a long-awaited breakthrough for people suffering from multiple sclerosis (MS), a disease in which the central nervous system is attacked by the body's immune system, often causing chronic pain, difficulties speaking, weakness and fatigue, among other symptoms.
In clinic trials, patients received high-dose
immunosuppressive therapy followed by transplantation of their own
blood-forming stem cells. The results showed sustained remission of
relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis, the most common form of the disease.
The National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious
Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, sponsored
Five years after receiving the treatment -- a high-dose
immunosuppressive therapy and autologous hematopoietic cell transplant, or
HDIT/HCT -- approximately 70 percent of the participants had not had a relapse of MS symptoms, progression of disability, or experienced the development of
new brain lesions. What’s more, participants didn’t have to take additional
medications for MS following the HDIT/HCT treatment. This is a significant
improvement over other currently available MS drugs with lower
treatment success rates.
“These extended findings suggest that one-time treatment
with HDIT/HCT may be substantially more effective than long-term treatment with
the best available medications for people with a certain type of MS,” NIAID
Director Anthony Fauci said. “These encouraging results support the
development of a large, randomized trial to directly compare HDIT/HCT to
standard of care for this often-debilitating disease.”
2.5 million people in the world suffer from MS, including 400,000 in the United States. Approximately 200 new cases are diagnosed every week
in the United States.
The results of the trial were published
online in the medical journal *Neurology.*
Stem cell transplants suggest hope against MS
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