Intense Stem Cell Therapy – a Possible Treatment for Multiple Sclerosis
Stem cell therapy for relapsing MS proves effective and safe, study finds
A new Intense Stem Cell Therapy known as HSCT has shown promising results during a clinical trial. However, experts give words of caution, saying that it might not work for everyone.
Stem cells might prove to be an important breakthrough for the treatment of multiple sclerosis, but the road to there might be a long and painful one.
A new clinical trial tried to explain this. During the trial, participants with multiple sclerosis (MS)
that were using nonmyeloablative hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) showed better results than the participants on disease-modifying treatments (DMTs).
This randomized clinical trial is the first one of its kind, comparing HSCT to DMTs.
Researchers involved in this trial stated that a significant portion of participants on HSCT treatment was successful in slowing down the progression of the disease, in comparison with the participants that were using DMTs.
Out of 103 participants, only three (on HSCT) showed disease progression when compared to the 34 that were on DMTs. Because of this, the research team made a conclusion that HSCT is better at slowing down progression than DMTs, but pointed out that it is important to come up with the right type of patients that will be subjected to what has been shown to be a rigorous and somewhat dangerous therapy.
This study was led by Dr. Richard Burt, chief of immunotherapy and autoimmune diseases at the Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine in Illinois.
Dr. Barbara Geisser, professor of clinical neurology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and clinical director of the UCLA MS program had this to say on the matter: “This important study is the first randomized trial of HSCT vs. DMT, and demonstrated that HSCT was superior to conventional DMT in stabilizing persons with relapsing MS with respect to relapses and progression and improving some functions.”
A rigorous treatment
HSCT works by using chemotherapy in order to aid cells to “forget” they have MS. By doing this, the immune system is brought down to some quite vulnerable levels. The patient has to be hospitalized and treated with the greatest care.
Bruce Bebo, PhD, an executive vice president of research at the National Multiple Sclerosis Society said: “HSCT is not one therapy but a range of therapies from a more mild type of chemo to a stronger type. Dr. Burt practices a more mild form of chemotherapy — more mild form of immunosuppression — so the risks are lower.”
The participants of the trial had relapsing MS, characterized with mild to moderate disabilities, with a range of 2 to 6 on the Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS).
Bebo said: “This study stands above the others — first controlled randomized autologous stem cell transplant. Burt and his team should be applauded for taking this on. It’s what everyone was asking for,” adding that “A lot of groups are experimenting with this type of treatment — case studies and evidence is accumulating for its positive benefit and accumulating info for the best patient and approach for success.”
He further continued to explain the difficulty of this study in performance, and elaborated on how Burt and his team were able to create an unbiased way to make a comparison between HSCT and DMTs, by way of excluding ocrelizumab and alemtuzumab.