Around 100,000 people in the UK have Multiple Sclerosis (MS), the advanced “progressive” form of which was previously an incurable neurodegenerative disease. MS involves the immune system mistakenly attacking the protective (myelin) sheath surrounding nerve fibres in the brain and spinal cord.
Aggressive chemotherapy, to knock-out the immune system entirely, followed by stem cell transplant therapy appears to halt the progression of multiple sclerosis, according to an early small study published in the Lancet.
New treatment can ‘halt’ multiple sclerosis, says study. London: BBC Health News, June 10th 2016.
Pym, H. (2016). MS: New therapy but a dilemma for patients. London: BBC Health News, June 10th 2016.
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Atkins, HL. Bowman, M. [and] Allan, D. [et al] (2016). Immunoablation and autologous haemopoietic stem-cell transplantation for aggressive multiple sclerosis: a multicentre single-group phase 2 trial. The Lancet. June 9th 2016. [Epub ahead of print].
The researchers, funded by the Multiple Sclerosis Scientific Research Foundation, describe autologous Haemopoietic Stem-Cell Transplantation (aHSCT):
“ …the first treatment to fully halt all detectable CNS inflammatory activity in patients with multiple sclerosis for a prolonged period in the absence of any ongoing disease-modifying drugs. Furthermore, many of the patients had substantial recovery of neurological function despite their disease’s aggressive nature”.