Patients who are living with highly active, relapsing multiple sclerosis (MS), could benefit from stem cell therapy. That is according to the Multiple Sclerosis Society, which is raising awareness of the “long-term promise” the treatment may have, once further risk-based research is undertaken.
The charity has backed its claim up with a comprehensive study into aggressive autologous haematopoietic stem cell transplantations (AHSCTs), which found that relapses could be prevented when combined with chemotherapy.
The study, involved 24 people who had been subjected to high intensity chemotherapy and were undergoing AHSCTs, found that multiple sclerosis-related attacks upon the immune system could be bypassed; for ten or more years in some cases.
Of the 24 patients who took part in the study, not one underwent a relapse during the follow-up period, the timespan of which ranged from four to 13 years. Seventy per cent of the participants also recorded no worsening of their symptoms after treatment, with 40 per cent saying that their condition improved.
Nevertheless, the treatment was not without its issues, with some patients undergoing serious health problems due to the combination of AHSCT and the aggressive chemotherapy beforehand.
Dr Freedman, who was involved in producing the study, said the “potential benefits” of this form of treatment “should be weighed against the risks”.
He added: “Future research will be directed at reducing the risks of this treatment, as well as understanding which patients would best benefit from it.”