There have been reports of long-term studies of stem cell transplants that help combat more aggressive or rapidly progressing multiple sclerosis.
The treatment is called hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT). It consists of removing the patient’s immune system and other blood cells and then replacing them with new bone marrow stem cells from the same patient.
However, scientists and doctors who are not involved in the study recognize that it is a very risky and controversial process.
Dr. Aaron Miller, chief physician of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and professor of neurology at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, says that the idea behind the procedure is to reset the thermostat and start over, he doesn’t think the treatment will last will have an influence on the field.
“This is a very heroic form of therapy for multiple sclerosis [MS]In my opinion, this is unlikely to ever have a major impact on the field, ”added Miller. “It’s a very risky therapy – mortality rates were in the 2-3 percent range … and it’s hugely expensive.”
The study started 15 years ago and the results of the study were published in the March 22nd issue of Neurology.
Now, after 15 years, the authors report that a total of 25 percent of the 35 first-time patients are stabilized. The success rate was 44 percent better for those with active brain lesions that indicate aggressive diseases.
Many had less disability and fewer and smaller brain lesions.
Two participants, or 6 percent, died of complications from the transplant.
The report’s authors say they are continuing their research on the more aggressive types of MS. Due to the high mortality rate of the patients in the study, continuing research may be difficult due to the lack of volunteers.
Still, some doctors and researchers say the procedure could be a way to improve the lives of people with aggressive MS and is a good first step in treating aggressive MS.