Younger woman working on stem cell transplant for ms

Study finds stem cell transplant leads to low rates of MS activity

A study on 22 people with multiple sclerosis (MS) found that they had no new disease activity for at least two years after they had autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplant (aHSCT) at a facility in Mexico.

Roughly two-thirds of the patients were male. Five had primary progressive MS (PPMS), six had relapsing remitting MS (RRMS) and half had secondary progressive MS (SPMS).

The most recent follow-up of the patients, which was on average seven years port-treatment, found that over two-thirds were still free of MS activity. The results were presented at the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) 2023 Annual Meeting which took place in Boston, US, and virtually.

AHSCT sees a patient’s stem cells harvested from the bone marrow, and them then undergoing chemotherapy to wipe out the immune system. The stem cells are then returned to the patient, with the aim of ‘regrowing’ an immune system that’s healthy and does not unleash inflammatory attacks on the brain and spinal cord.

It requires a hospital stay of several weeks and is available in the UK on the NHS but usually only for people who fit a certain criteria.

The procedure is not without risks and seven participants had significant safety issues connected to the aHSCT, which included fever and severe infections.

During the period until the long-term follow-up, several patients had developed other health issues, but it was not specified whether there was a connection between these problems and the aHSCT treatment.

“This observational study shows that aHSCT using a low-intensity regimen is relatively safe when done in highly experienced centres, with good long term outcomes in RRMS and SPMS patients,” the scientists said. “Given the lack of treatment option for SPMS, AHSCT may be a viable option for mitigating disease progression when other options are not available.”

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