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Stem Cell Transplant Can Delay Multiple Screlosis

Update Date: Feb 22, 2017 08:08 AM EST

A new study from the Imperial College London found stem cell transplants may halt or freeze the progression of multiple sclerosis (MS). Researchers found that 46 percent of patients who underwent stem cell transplant did not show progression of their condition for five years.

Dr. Riccardo Saccardi, study co-author from the cell therapy and transfusion medicine unit at Careggi University Hospital in Florence, Italy said "Stem cell transplantation cannot be considered a cure for MS. However, it can be considered a concrete option for patients showing aggressive MS who have not responded to approved treatments."

According to Philly, more than two people in the world suffer from MS based on findings from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. It attacks the central nervous system and can cause symptoms such as blurred vision, loss of balance, poor coordination, slurred speech, tremors, numbness, extreme fatigue, problems with memory and concentration, paralysis and blindness.

According to Telegraph, autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation was given to patients with advanced forms of the disease who had failed to respond to other medications. However, researchers said the treatment carried significant risks.

Researchers used the patient's own stem cells to reboot the immune system and halt progression. The treatment is risky because the patient's immune system has to be wiped out before the stem cells can be transplanted..

Saccardi and his team followed 281 patients from 13 countries who had received stem cell transplants between 1995 and 2006. They found that 46 percent of the patients experienced progression-free survival five years after the transplant. A hundred days after the transplant eight patients died.

Nearly 3 percent of the patients died shortly after receiving the transplant. The deaths were directly related to the transplant, which is a major concern because MS is not life-threatening. They believe deaths were due to the transplant technology used before 2006, which has since improved.

Dr. Michael Racke from Ohio State University said patient selection is important. There may be MS patients that could be identified that might do well with transplant.

The study was published online on Monday in the journal JAMA Neurology.

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