An aggressive chemotherapy and stem cell treatment has halted the progression of multiple sclerosis in a small group of patients. The technique is considered “high risk”, and involves the complete but temporary destruction of the immune system, as described in the study published in The Lancet.
Twenty-four patients between the ages of 18 – 50 were chosen for the procedure. They were originally given poor prognoses, meaning that their condition was having a severe effect in their life. After undergoing this trial, 23 of them are now showing no new signs of the disease and experienced no relapses, and some have even recovered their mobility. The 24th patient, sadly, died as a result of the procedure.
Although the treatment has its limitations, medical researchers have called it a huge step forward in the fight against MS.
“I hesitate to use the c-word. A cure would be stopping all disease moving forward and repairing all damage that has occurred,” said Dr. Mark Freedman, the Director of the Multiple Sclerosis Research Unit at Ottawa Hospital and coordinator of the study. “As far as we can ascertain no new damage seems to occur beyond the treatment and patients don’t need to take any medication, so in that sense, I think it has induced a long-standing remission.”