A new Swedish study has found that haematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) treatment could slow the progression of multiple sclerosis (MS).


New Swedish study finds HSCT can slow progression of multiple sclerosis

More than 70% of participants in the study had no new progression after five years of treatment

A new Swedish study has found that haematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) treatment could slow the progression of symptoms in people with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (MS).

Results showed that nearly three-quarters of patients in the study with relapsing or remitting MS had no new progression after five years of HSCT.

Researchers followed up with 174 study participants to see if their MS disability worsened, stabilised or improved.

After five years, they discovered that 73% of participants had no relapses, increases in their expanded disability status scale (EDSS) score and no new or active lesions appearing on their MRI scans.

Additionally, 12 of the 19 participants who were followed up after ten years of having HSCT did not have any new MS activity.

Autologous HSCT (AHSCT) works by taking stem cells from the body and reintroducing them following chemotherapy. The body recognises the cells as familiar, making it less likely for the body to have a negative reaction.

The results support previous findings from the MIST trial, which showed that patients being treated with HCST had no new MS activity after four to five years.

Despite this, the new study did not compare HCST with any other treatments and further investigation is required to determine whether the MS treatment works better than others.

However, HCST proved to be safe as there were no treatment-related deaths and researchers have suggested that it could be implemented within routine healthcare.

Dr Sarah Rawlings, executive director, research and external affairs at MS Society, said: “We know HSCT doesn’t work for everyone with MS, but it has been an important development in MS treatment and some people see life-changing results.

“These new results are encouraging but only observe how disability progresses after HSCT and so reinforce the need for randomised controlled trials comparing HSCT with the most highly effective disease-modifying therapies.”

Launched in 2022, the StarMS trial is currently comparing AHSCT with four highly effective treatments for relapsing remitting MS, alemtuzumab, ocrelizumab, ofatumumab and cladribine, in hospitals across the UK.


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