UK doctors in Sheffield say patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) are showing “remarkable” improvements after receiving a treatment usually used for cancer.
About 20 patients have received bone marrow transplants using their own stem cells. Some patients who were paralysed have been able to walk again.
Prof Basil Sharrack, of Sheffield’s Royal Hallamshire Hospital, said: “To have a treatment which can potentially reverse disability is really a major achievement.”
Around 100,000 people in the UK have MS, an incurable neurological condition. Most patients are diagnosed in their 20s and 30s.
The disease causes the immune system to attack the lining of nerves in the brain and spinal cord.
The treatment – known as an autologous haematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT) – aims to destroy 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.
Prof John Snowden, consultant haematologist at Royal Hallamshire Hospital, said: “The immune system is being reset or rebooted back to a time point before it caused MS.”
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