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MS treatment, AHSCT, shows “remarkable” results
18 January 2016 • Author: Victoria White
A pioneering treatment for Multiple Sclerosis (MS), called autologous haematopoietic stem cell transplantation (AHSCT), developed at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, will be featured on BBC Panorama on Monday 18th January.
The programme follows four patients with relapsing/remitting MS and tells their remarkable stories.
The treatment destroys the faulty immune system using chemotherapy. It is then rebuilt with stem cells harvested from the patient’s own blood; these cells are at such an early stage they’ve not developed the flaws that trigger MS. AHSCT involves collecting the patient’s own bone marrow stem cells and freezing them. The patient is then given a high dose of chemotherapy before the stem cells are thawed and re-infused into the patient’s blood to reboot their immune system.
Commenting on the treatment, Prof John Snowden, Consultant Haematologist, Royal Hallamshire Hospital, said: “The immune system is being reset or rebooted back to a time point before it caused MS.”
Around 20 patients have been treated to date at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield. Professor Basil Sharrack, Consultant Neurologist at Sheffield Teaching Hospital’s NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The new treatment is showing some REMARKABLE results in the small number of patients we have treated so far. It is important to stress however that this treatment is unfortunately not suitable for everyone. The treatment is only suitable for patients with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis disease who have had two or more significant relapses in the previous twelve months, failed to respond to standard drug treatment and who have had the illness for no more than 10 years. This treatment is not effective in patients with primary or secondary MS.”
Professor Sharrack went on to say that Royal Hallamshire Hospital will be participating in a major international clinical research trial – MIST – to assess the long-term benefits of the treatment.
The team from BBC Panorama were given exclusive access to follow four of Sheffield’s patients who were given AHSCT. Holly Drewry, one of the patients treated at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital, commented on her experience: “It’s been amazing. I got my life and my independence back and the future is bright again in terms of being a mum.”
Two years on Holly has suffered no relapses and there is currently no evidence of active disease on her scans.
The programme will be aired tonight on BBC One at 20:30 on Monday 18 January 2016.
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