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More MS news articles for January 2003

Transplantation of haematopoietic stem cells in multiple sclerosis

Rev Neurol 2002 Dec 16-31;35(12):1136-41
Saiz A, Graus F.
Institut Clinic de Malalties del Sistema Nervios. Hospital Clinic de Barcelona, Barcelona, Espa a.

The idea of treating auto immune diseases which are resistant to conventional immunodepressive treatment by autologous transplantation of haematopoietic stem cells obtained from peripheral blood (TAPH) is based on the hypothesis that immuno ablative treatment would destroy the patients anti self lymphocytes and the reinfusion of stem cells would give rise to lymphocytes which would be tolerant of the antigens responsible for the auto immune response.

By July 2000, 90 patients with multiple sclerosis (EM) had received a TAPH according to data of the European Group for Blood and Marrow Transplantation/European League against Rheumatism (EBMT/EULAR).

In the literature there are reports of the results obtained in 43 patients in whom EM was the sole indication for treatment [30 secondary progressive (SP), 10 primary progressive (PP) and 3 progressive relapsing (PR) EM].

The transplant related mortality (death within the first 100 days) was 4.6% (2/43), in both cases caused by infection.

In the study which included 24 patients, the TAPH was considered to have been effective, since 92% of the patients with SP, EM had no further progression after 3 years.

However, of the patients with PP, EM only 40% scored the same or better on the EDSS, as compared to their basal scores, at the end of the study.

In any case, this treatment cannot be considered to cure the EM since the probability of patients having no signs of active disease 3 years after transplantation is 12% in SP EM and 0% in PP EM.

TAPH remains an experimental treatment.

Only in the future will it be clear whether this treatment is really useful for patients with multiple sclerosis.