YOUR HEALTH: Stem cell transplant stops MS in its tracks

Multiple sclerosis is slowly stealing Kathy Miska’s independence and ability to walk.
Published: Mar. 14, 2023 at 5:15 AM CDT|Updated: Mar. 14, 2023 at 6:22 AM CDT
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LOS ANGELES, Calif. (Ivanhoe Newswire) - Multiple sclerosis impacts almost a million Americans. It’s one of the leading causes of disability among young people in the United States. There are several medications to control the symptoms but nothing to stop it from progressing, that is until now.

Multiple sclerosis is slowly stealing Kathy Miska’s independence and ability to walk.

“Right now, I have a lot of numbness in my hands and the bottoms of my feet are very numb,” she says.

Those are just a few of the symptoms MS patients experience. There are more than 20 FDA-approved drugs to relieve symptoms. For many patients, they are on these drugs for life.

UCI Health neurologist, Dr. Michael Sy, MD says, “Some of these medications are very effective in reducing the number of relapses that do occur.”

But nothing stops the progression.

“It is frustrating when we see patients declining and can’t do much more for them,” he adds

Now, Dr. Sy is part of a handful of doctors in the world using an experimental leading-edge stem cell transplant to fight MS.

Dr. Sy explains, “Bone marrow transplant offers the opportunity to just completely reset the immune system.”

AHSCT is an immunosuppressive therapy that involves harvesting a patientÕs own blood stem cells. The patient’s immune system is wiped out using chemo then, the stem cells are reinfused into the patient.

“Eighty percent of the time, patients no longer have relapses,” Dr. Sy mentions.

No more relapses, no more medication, and for 65% of the patients, the progression stops, potentially life-changing for millions.

Because the stem cell transplant therapy allows patients to get off all their medications, in the long run, researchers believe this will not only be lifesaving, but also cost effective. MS drugs can cost up to $100,000 a year. The transplant can cost up to $300,000, so in about three to four years, the transplant covers the cost of drugs. There is one major clinical trial in the U.S. and another clinical trial ongoing in Europe.

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