Doctors found a major breakthrough in Stem Cell treatment for Multiple Sclerosis (MS), according to Telegraph. MS is a disease where the immune system stops functioning and instead, attacks nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. Patients often cannot move, have blurred visions, and lose the sense of balance and the ability to talk.
The Stem Cell treatment is used in chemotherapy in which the immune system is deactivated for a short period of time and then resets again, as described by Telegraph. Patients were given a drug which would move stem cell from the bone marrow into the bloodstream, where they were removed from the body. A high dosage of chemotherapy was then used to kill all immune cells, before the patient’s stem cells were put back into the body to reset the immune system. A study conducted by Imperial College London discovered that 46 percent of patients who had been treated with stem cell transplantation were able to freeze the disease progression for as long as five years.
This treatment was also tested internationally with 100 patients from hospitals in Chicago, Sheffield, Stockholm, and Sao Paolo, according to BBC. They were either being treated with Stem Cell Treatment or the Conventional Drugs. According to the test results, there was only one relapse among 52 patients who had the stem cell treatment and 3 failed transplant treatment. In contrary, those who were given conventional drug treatment showed poorer results with 39 of 50 patients having a relapse within a year. Over three years, the treatment failed for 30 of them.
Besides slowing down disease progression, the Stem Cell treatment also reduces disability for people with MS. Louise Willmetts, 36, from Rotherham said to BBC that she was free from symptoms of MS since she was diagnosed in 2010 and described the experience as a miracle.
However, the researchers said that AHSCT comes with some risks. Since the chemotherapy deactivates the immune system for a short period of time, it can shut down disease fending mechanism during the time. Those who were treated also had relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS), which is common in people with multiple sclerosis (MS). There are many symptoms during RRMS which includes numbness and a tingling pain that runs down the spine when bending the neck.
Despite possible risks and relapses, the treatment gives hope to patients who are currently affected by multiple sclerosis (MS), considering there is no cure at the moment. Prof John Snowden, Director of blood and bone marrow transplantation at Sheffield’s Royal Hallamshire Hospital, told the BBC: “We are thrilled with the results – they are a game changer for patients with drug resistant and disabling multiple sclerosis.”