A National Institutes of Health (NIH)-sponsored study called HALT-MS confirms, high-dose immunosuppression followed by autologous stem cell transplantation will prevent MS attacks in patients who are not responding to available treatment options and ultimately protect against the degeneration of nerve fibers.
In this summer edition, 2009 of Multiple Sclerosis Quarterly Report, a joint publication of United Spinal Association (www.UnitedSpinal.org) and the North American Research Committee on Multiple Sclerosis (NARCOMS), highlights the positive initial results of patients who have improving neurologic function after receiving a stem cell transplant, despite no longer taking any MS medications.
The Led author of the study George H. Kraft, MD, MS, director of the Western MS Center in Seattle, Washington, and colleagues, claims about the promising outcomes of the first three patients entered into the HALT-MS Study, which includs a 27-year-old woman with an 8-year history of relapsing MS who was treated with five different MS drugs, but continued to have relapses.
The study involved and observed the followings things:
- Researchers at first wipe out the patient’s immune system through high-dose chemotherapy or other means, such as radiation, to destroy most blood cells and bone marrow.
- Blood “stem cells” with the capacity to generate new blood and immune cells are then transplanted into the patient. These stem cells can either be the patient’s own or those from a matched donor.
- Once the cells are transplanted, they repopulate the bone marrow and restart building all the cell types found in the blood, a process called “engraftment”.
- After transplantation, the patient would effectively have a “new” immune system that would not attack nerves in the brain and spinal cord as seen in MS.
The Halt-MS Study is taking place at four centers in the US: The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center/University of Washington Western MS Center;
Ohio State University; Baylor College of Medicine; and M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, and is currently open to participants with severe relapsing forms of MS.
For more information, visit HALT-MS Website or contact Bernie McLaughlin, RN at (206) 667-4916.