Health

MS cell transplant trial

SANDRA COPIC

April 17, 2014

Stem cell transplants that may help treat people with severe auto-immune diseases including Multiple Sclerosis are being trialled by Sydney researchers.

Multiple Sclerosis is a chronic, neurodegenerative condition that affects the central nervous system of the body. The condition has many effects including numbness, spasms, anxiety, depression and fatigue.

There are four main therapies available that can help reduce the severity and frequency of attacks and slow the progression of the disease.

A study being conducted by Sydney’s St Vincent’s Hospital looks into the safety and efficiency of a stem cell transplant for people suffering from severe auto-immune diseases such as MS.

Manager of Clinical Research, Robert Kent, says there are high risks associated with undergoing the study’s trials, including death and there is no guarantee of results.

“We can’t guarantee any guarantees with this treatment,” Mr Kent said.

“What we know is we can offer the hope of giving [participants] some sort of treatment.

“If the known standard of care with whatever treatment their neurologist might feel is appropriate, if they are running out of those options then we can potentially offer this option, but we cannot guarantee any results.”

Mr Kent said there had been more than 20 people who had trialled the treatment so far. However, results have varied.

The trial involves transplanting adult stem cells which are taken from the patient’s own blood or bone marrow. The aim of the transplant is to re-boot the immune system.

Mr Kent said anyone interested in undergoing the trial should speak to their specialist to ensure they meet the eligibility criteria and can be referred to the clinic.

General Manager of Member Services at The Multiple Sclerosis Society of Western Australia, Sue Shapland, said there were lifestyle changes people suffering from Multiple Sclerosis could make to reduce the progression of the disease.

“We know smoking is very bad and increases the risk of progression by at least 30 percent and it actually increases the risk of getting MS by about 30 percent,” Ms Shapland said.

“A healthy diet, not exclusion diet, but a healthy diet, exercise and reducing stress, all of those things are actually helping people to have better outcomes long term.”

She said that sufferers of Multiple Sclerosis who started on disease-modifying therapies as soon as possible could prevent early damage.

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