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25 Feb 2015
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Why Stem Cell Transplant is better than MS Drugs to Treat Multiple Sclerosis?

According to a new research study published in the medical journal, Neurology, stem cell transplants are more effective than the existing drug, Mitoxantrone in the treatment of multiple sclerosis.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an auto-immune disease in which the immune system attacks the protective myelin sheath that covers the nerve cells of the brain and spinal cord, affecting the central nervous system. MS causes visual, sensory and motor problems apart from muscle weakness, reflexes, muscle spasms, numbness, loss of balance coordination, problems with speech, swallowing, vision etc.

This phase II trial involved 21 MS patients whose condition got worse in the previous year. During the trial, immune suppressing medications were administered to all the participants. Out of 21 patients, 12 received MS drug, Mitoxantrone while the rest received bone marrow stem cells harvested from their own body which was injected back through a vein. Over a period of time, the stem cells reached the bone marrow and developed into immune cells and reset the immune system. The participants were monitored for over 4 years to observe the changes and improvements.

The progression of MS is usually diagnosed by the appearance of lesions. According to the study findings, patients who received stem cell treatment had 80% fewer T2 lesions (a type of brain tissue damage caused by multiple sclerosis) compared to patients with mitoxantrone. The another type of lesion, gadolinium-enhancing lesion that usually appears in MS patients was not observed in participants with stem cell transplant while 56% of MS drug injected patients had developed the new lesion. Thus, it can be concluded that stem cell treatment showed reduced disease activity compared to mitoxantrone drug.

The progression of MS is usually diagnosed by the appearance of lesions. According to the study findings, patients who received stem cell treatment had 80% fewer T2 lesions (a type of brain tissue damage caused by multiple sclerosis) compared to patients with mitoxantrone. The another type of lesion, gadolinium-enhancing lesion that usually appears in MS patients was not observed in participants with stem cell transplant while 56% of MS drug injected patients had developed the new lesion. Thus, it can be concluded that stem cell treatment showed reduced disease activity compared to mitoxantrone drug.

However, there were few expected side effects observed in stem cell treatment group. The study author Giovanni Mancardi said that the side effects were resolved without any permanent consequences. “… It is very exciting to see that this treatment may be so superior to a current treatment for people with severe MS that is not responding well to standard treatments”, he added.

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