Tricky Transplants for MS Patients

Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation may help multiple sclerosis

(RxWiki News) We do not have a cure for multiple sclerosis (MS) today. As such, researchers are always trying to find new ways to treat the disease. According to a new study, stem cell transplants may hold the key to treating the most severe cases of MS.

In a 15-year study, researchers looked at the success rates of a type of stem cell transplant in treating patients with MS. They found that the transplant treatment - which is expensive and can be dangerous - should be used only on patients with the most serious cases of MS, such as those who have brain tissue damage.

"Stem cell transplants may help patients with severe MS."

The study's authors write that hematopoietic stem cell transplantation - which involves replacing a patient's blood cells with new stem cells from bone marrow - can be successful in controlling the symptoms of MS.

However, the treatment can also be dangerous. As such, it should not be used on just any patient with MS. Rather, as the study showed, the treatment is much more effective on patients who have brain lesions - a symptom of MS flare-ups.

In Depth

Researchers followed 35 MS patients who underwent hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. Fifteen years after transplant, the researchers found:

  • Symptoms of MS were stabilized in 25 percent of study participants
  • 44 percent of MS patients with brain lesions had their disease stabilized
  • Two patients died during the course of the study
  • Transplantation reduced the size and number of certain lesions
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Review Date: 
April 13, 2011