Stem-Cell Transplants Show Promise for Halting MS Damage

Source: Harvard Medical School / By: Robert H. Shmerling, M.D.

(BOSTON, Mass.) — Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease of the brain and spinal cord that often leads to disability and early death. It is thought to develop because the immune system mistakenly attacks the nervous system. Treatments to suppress the immune system can help. But there’s no known way to prevent MS, and no cure. Current treatments may work poorly, cause troublesome side effects or both.

So it’s worth taking note of news about a treatment for MS that may be more effective than what is available now. A new study compared stem-cell transplants with an older drug, mitoxantrone. All 21 people in the study had severe MS. It was getting worse despite standard treatments to suppress the immune system. Researchers have just published the study results in the journal Neurology.

Nine people had stem cells removed from their bone marrow. Then they had immune-suppressing treatments, and the stem cells were injected again through a vein. The rest of those in the study received similar immune-suppressing drugs, followed by mitoxantrone. People were monitored by a neurologist and by MRI scans over four years. People treated with their own stem cells:

  • Were just as likely to become more disabled as those receiving mitoxantrone.
  • Had far fewer new areas of brain injury related to MS noted on brain scans.
  • Had no new MS-related inflammation in the brain. About 56% of the mitoxantrone-treated patients had new areas of inflammation, as shown on MRI. None of the stem-cell group had these new areas.
  • Had no permanent side effects related to treatment.

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The Study

By |February 12th, 2015|Multiple Sclerosis|0 Comments

New Multiple Sclerosis Stem Cell Study Shows Improvements

(Evanston, Ill.) — Treatment with a form of stem cell transplantation in individuals with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis has demonstrated improvements in neurological disability, quality of life, and cognitive function. The new study, which appears in a recent issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, did not show similar positive results for individuals with secondary progressive MS.

Numerous scientific teams have been exploring the use of stem cell transplantation for multiple sclerosis. A form known as hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT), which is the form used in this study and various others, involves giving patients an intravenous infusion of their own (autologous) stem cells that have been harvested from peripheral blood or bone marrow in an effort to reset immune system functioning.

The new study was conducted by Richard Burt, MD, of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, and his colleagues.

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By |January 26th, 2015|Multiple Sclerosis, Stem Cells|0 Comments