Awareness Monthly Article

Awareness Monthly
MARCH IS MS AWARENESS MONTH

MS: Stem Cell Transplant Halts Disease Progression

January 18, 2019 (Medical News Today)

A new trial, led by Dr. Richard K. Burt from the Division of Immunotherapy at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, IL, set out to compare the effectiveness of stem cell transplantation with traditional, disease-modifying therapies against MS progression. According to new research, stem cell therapy may be more effective at slowing down the progression of multiple sclerosis (MS) than disease-modifying therapies.

A new trial, led by Dr. Richard K. Burt from the Division of Immunotherapy at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, IL, set out to compare the effectiveness of stem cell transplantation with traditional, disease-modifying therapies against MS progression. Results of this study are now published in JAMA.

So how was it determined that stem cell transplant may be ‘more effective’?

”As Dr. Burt and his colleagues explain in their paper, “hematopoietic stem cell transplantation” aims to eliminate “autoreactive” lymphocytes — one of the main type of immune cells in the human body — and “restart a new immune system in a non-inflammatory environment.”” According to the paper, previous case studies have found that 70 percent of those who benefited from a stem cell transplant experienced disease-free remission for 4 years.

For this trial, 110 patients were recruited from medical schools across the United States between 2205 and 2016. Characteristics of the participants included:

  • 18 – 55 years old
  • “highly active” relapse-remitting MS (RRMS)

The participants were either given neurologist-recommended, disease-modifying therapy or stem cell transplantation. Those who received the stem cell transplantation also received a low-dose, tolerable form of chemotherapy. Participants in the stem cell, chemotherapy combination group experienced “prolonged time to disease progression,” which allowed researcheers to suuggest this form of treatment as a more effective alternative to disease-modifying therapy for patients with RRMS.

Read more about this study here. 

 

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