The destruction of near all immune cells followed by cell therapy to speed recreation of the immune system is a fairly harsh procedure, as the only way to clear a sufficiently high fraction of immune cells at the moment is essentially a form of chemotherapy. It is an effective treatment for autoimmune conditions, however, albeit with a significant risk of death, in line with that for many major surgeries. This makes it suitable in its current form only for more severe autoimmune disorders in which the patients tend to be younger and more robust, but with a very poor prognosis. In past years researchers have demonstrated considerable success with multiple sclerosis, and the article here provides an update on ongoing trials. The results continue to be impressive.
In the future, the chemotherapy approach will be replaced with more targeted, less harmful methods of selective cell destruction - consider the Oisin Biotechnologies cell destruction technology turned against immune system markers, for example. More gentle cell destruction methodologies will make immune system recreation viable as a way to rejuvenate aged immune systems, even in very old, frail individuals, clearing out all of the misconfigured, senescent, exhausted, or otherwise harmful immune cells. That is why it is worth keeping an eye on progress in this line of research.
Doctors say a stem cell transplant could be a "game changer" for many patients with multiple sclerosis (MS). Results from an international trial show that it was able to stop the disease and improve symptoms. It involves wiping out a patient's immune system using cancer drugs and then rebooting it with a stem cell transplant. Just over 100 patients took part in the trial, in hospitals in Chicago, Sheffield, Uppsala in Sweden and Sao Paolo in Brazil. They all had relapsing remitting MS - where attacks or relapses are followed by periods of remission. The interim results were released at the annual meeting of the European Society for Bone and Marrow Transplantation in Lisbon.
The patients received either haematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) or drug treatment. After one year, only one relapse occurred among the stem cell group compared with 39 in the drug group. After an average follow-up of three years, the transplants had failed in three out of 52 patients (6%), compared with 30 of 50 (60%) in the control group. Those in the transplant group experienced a reduction in disability, whereas symptoms worsened in the drug group. "The data is stunningly in favour of transplant against the best available drugs - the neurological community has been sceptical about this treatment, but these results will change that."
The treatment uses chemotherapy to destroy the faulty immune system. Stem cells taken from the patient's blood and bone marrow are then re-infused. These are unaffected by MS and they rebuild the immune system. "We are thrilled with the results - they are a game changer for patients with drug resistant and disabling multiple sclerosis. This is an interim analysis, but with that caveat, this is the best result I have seen in any trial for multiple sclerosis." The transplant costs around $40,000, about the same as the annual price of some MS drugs. Doctors stress it is not suitable for all MS patients and the process can be gruelling, involving chemotherapy and a few weeks in isolation in hospital.