Stem Cell Therapy for MS Shows Promise

Experimental treatment kills off, then 'resets' the immune system

WebMD News from HealthDay

By Dennis Thompson

HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Dec. 29, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- An experimental therapy that kills off and then "resets" the immune system has given three years of remission to a small group of multiple sclerosis patients, researchers say.

About eight in 10 patients given this treatment had no new adverse events after three years. And nine in 10 experienced no progression or relapse in their MS, said lead author Dr. Richard Nash of the Colorado Blood Cancer Institute at Presbyterian/St. Luke's Medical Center in Denver.

"I think we all think of this as a viable therapy," Nash said. "We still need to perform a randomized clinical trial, but we're all pretty impressed so far, in terms of what we've seen."

In multiple sclerosis, the body's immune system for some unknown reason attacks the nervous system, in particular targeting the insulating sheath that covers the nerve fibers, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health. People with the more common form, called relapsing-remitting MS, have attacks of worsening neurologic function followed by partial or complete recovery periods (remissions).

Over time, as the damage mounts, patients become physically weak, have problems with coordination and balance, and suffer from thinking and memory problems.

This new therapy seeks to reset the immune system by killing it off using high-dose chemotherapy, then restarting it using the patient's own blood stem cells. Doctors harvest and preserve the patient's stem cells before treatment, and re-implant them following chemotherapy.

Excerpt from:
Stem Cell Therapy for MS Shows Promise

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