A new study published in the journal Neurology has followed people with MS after stem cell transplantation from one hospital in Greece.
The hospital began stem cell transplantation for people with aggressive MS not responding to other standard therapies in 1995; this study reports a median follow up time of 11 years.
The results suggest that while some people do die after the procedure, in general there is a sustained reduction in progression to disability for these people with very aggressive disease who might otherwise quickly get profoundly disabled. Thirty-five people were followed after the procedure.
Two people died as a direct result of therapy, a somewhat higher death rate than the 2-3% generally reported with this procedure from other European centres.
In general, the researchers concluded that stem cell transplantation is not a therapy for most people with MS but should be reserved for aggressive cases, generally early in the disease, but whose disease is progressing rapidly. In very severe forms it can be life-saving.
Transplantation had an impressive and sustained effect in suppressing disease activity. This may be something to consider for young people with rapidly progressing disease.