Stem cell treatment found to ‘freeze’ multiple sclerosis

Researchers believe they have found a treatment which “resets” the immune system and can “freeze” progression of the disease in nearly half of patients.

The treatment could give hope to 100,000 people in the UK who are affected by multiple sclerosis (MS), for which there is no known cure at present.

The study, led by Imperial College London, found that 46% of patients who underwent the treatment did not suffer a worsening of their condition for five years.

The trial treatment, autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (AHSCT), was given to patients with advanced forms of the disease who had previous failed to respond to other treatments or medications.

In the trial patients are given a drug which encourages stem cells to move from the bone marrow into the bloodstream, where they are harvested from the body. Following this chemotherapy is administered to kill all immune cells, before the patient’s own stem cells were put back into the body to “reset” the immune system.

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What is Multiple sclerosis (MS)? Multiple Sclerosis is a, currently incurable, degenerative disease that effects the central nervous system (CNS). The disease is caused by the immune system malfunctioning and mistakenly attacking nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.It leads to problems with movement, vision, balance and speech. Symptoms usually start in your 20s and 30s and it affects almost three times as many women as men (MSSociety).