A stem cell therapy called autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (aHSCT) has shown promise in treating relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (MS), according to researchers in Sweden. Although primarily used to treat blood cancers, aHSCT has been used for MS since the 1990s. However, concerns about its safety and the difficulty of the procedure have limited its use.
In a recent study published in the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery & Psychiatry, researchers found that aHSCT is a suitable treatment for relapsing-remitting MS. They analyzed data from the Swedish MS registry and the European Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation registry and found that the treatment is not only safer and more effective than previously believed, but it could also benefit a larger number of MS patients.
The study showed that after 5 years, 73% of patients showed no evidence of disease progression, and after 10 years, that number was 65%. Of the patients who had some form of disability at the beginning of the study, 54% showed improvement, 37% remained stable, and only 9% experienced worsening symptoms.
However, the treatment is not without risks. Patients experienced adverse events such as febrile neutropenia and low potassium levels, and five patients required intensive care within 100 days of treatment. While the safety of the procedure has improved over the years, it is still considered a serious treatment option that requires careful consideration.
The National MS Society Guidelines recommend aHSCT for individuals with relapsing-remitting MS who are less than 50 years old, have had MS for less than 10 years, and are not responding to typical disease-modifying therapy.
While aHSCT shows promise for some MS patients, it is important to note that it is not a cure for the disease. MS is a chronic illness that affects the central nervous system and can cause various symptoms and disabilities. It is the leading cause of permanent neurological disability in young adults.
The findings of this study could help inform more doctors about the potential benefits of aHSCT and open the door to more individuals with relapsing-remitting MS looking for an effective treatment. However, it is crucial for patients and healthcare providers to carefully weigh the risks and benefits before considering aHSCT as a treatment option.