In releasing results from a recent clinical trial, the NIH said patients were first given high-dose immunosuppressive therapy before undergoing what is known as autologous hematopoietic cell transplant (HDIT/HCT). In a five-year follow-up, 69 percent of the patients had not experienced a relapse of symptoms, a progression of the disease, or new brain lesions. They also had not received any MS medications.
The clinical trial was sponsored by the NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).
“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,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the NIAID, 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.”
MS is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the
central nervous system. It can cause motor and speech difficulties,
chronic pain, weakness and fatigue.
“Although further evaluation of the benefits and risks of HDIT/HCT is needed, these five-year results suggest the promise of this treatment for inducing long-term, sustained remissions of poor-prognosis relapsing-remitting MS,” Dr. Richard Nash, of the Colorado Blood Cancer Institute and Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Hospital, said. Nash was the principal investigator of the study.