Stem cell transplant ‘game changer’ for MS patients

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Media caption “I’d given up hope”: Louise Willetts states she is completely well following the girl treatment

Doctors say the stem cell transplant could be a “game changer” for many patients with several sclerosis.

Results from a worldwide trial show that it was able to quit the disease and improve symptoms.

It involves wiping out the patient’s immune system using cancer medicines and then rebooting it with a originate cell transplant.

Louise Willetts, 36, from Rotherham, has become symptom-free and told me: “It seems like a miracle. ”

An overall total of 100, 000 people in the united kingdom have MS, which attacks spirit in the brain and spinal cord.

Just over 100 patients got part in the trial, in private hospitals in Chicago, Sheffield, Uppsala within Sweden and Sao Paolo within Brazil.

All of them had relapsing remitting MS — where attacks or relapses are usually followed by periods of remission.

The interim results were launched at the annual meeting of the Western Society for Bone and Marrow Transplantation in Lisbon.

Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Nerve contacts become damaged in people with MICROSOFT

The particular patients received either haematopoietic originate cell transplantation (HSCT) or medications.

After one year, just one relapse occurred among the stem cellular group compared with 39 in the medication group.

After a typical follow-up of three years, the transplants had failed in three from 52 patients (6%), compared with thirty of 50 (60%) in the manage group.

Those within the transplant group experienced a reduction in impairment, whereas symptoms worsened in the medication group.

Prof Rich Burt, lead investigator, Northwestern College Chicago, told me: “The data will be stunningly in favour of transplant against the greatest available drugs – the nerve community has been sceptical about this therapy, but these results will change that. inch


Multiple sclerosis

  • Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a situation which can affect the brain and/or spinal-cord
  • It can cause problems with vision, supply or leg movement, sensation or even balance
  • Average life expectancy is somewhat reduced
  • It is estimated that there are more than one hundred, 000 people diagnosed with MS in the united kingdom

Source: NHS


The treatment utilizes chemotherapy to destroy the defective immune system.

Stem tissue taken from the patient’s blood plus bone marrow are then re-infused.

These are unaffected simply by MS and they rebuild the immune system.

Prof John Snowden, movie director of blood and bone marrow transplantation at Sheffield’s Royal Hallamshire Hospital, told me: “We are excited with the results – they are a game title changer for patients with medication resistant and disabling multiple sclerosis”.

Prof Basil Sharrock, neurologist at Royal Hallamshire Medical center, told me: “This is interim evaluation, but with that caveat, this is the greatest result I have seen in any test for multiple sclerosis. ”

‘Lived in fear’

Louise was identified as having MS in 2010 when she has been only 28.

The lady told me: “MS ruled my life and am lived in fear of the next relapse.

“The worst period was not being able to get out of bed mainly because I had no stability in my entire body – I struggled to stroll and even spent time in a wheelchair.

“It also impacted my cognition – it was just like a brain fog and I misread words and phrases and struggled to keep up with discussions. ”

The BBC’s Vistas filmed her going through her transplant in October 2015 and she is now back to full wellness.

She did marry to her partner Steve, on the very first anniversary of her transplant, plus their baby daughter Joy is currently a month old.

“I feel like my diagnosis was simply a bad dream. I live every single day as I want to, rather than planning my entire life around my MS. ”

The transplant costs about £ 30, 000, about the same since the annual price of some MS medicines.

Doctors stress it is far from suitable for all MS patients as well as the process can be gruelling, involving radiation treatment and a few weeks in isolation within hospital.

Dr Leslie Kohlhaas, director of research in the MS Society, said the originate cell transplant HSCT “will shortly be recognised as an established therapy in England – and when that happens the priority will be making sure those who can benefit can actually get it”.

She added: “We’ve seen life-changing results for some people plus having that opportunity can’t rely on your postcode. ”

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