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Stem Cell Transplant May Slow Disability in Multiple Sclerosis

THURSDAY, Jan. 21, 2021 -- For patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (aHSCT) may prevent worsening of disability, according to a study published online Jan. 20 in Neurology.

Giacomo Boffa, M.D., from the University of Genoa in Italy, and colleagues analyzed long-term outcomes after aHSCT in 210 patients with MS (58 percent with relapsing-remitting MS [RRMS]).

The researchers found that disability worsening-free survival was 85.5 and 71.3 percent among RRMS patients at five and 10 years, respectively. Disability worsening-free survival was 71.0 and 57.2 percent at five and 10 years, respectively, among patients with progressive MS. The Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) decreased significantly after aHSCT in RRMS patients (mean EDSS change per year, –0.09). Use of BEAM+ATG conditioning was independently associated with a lower risk for "no evidence of disease activity"-3 failure in RRMS patients (hazard ratio, 0.27). Within 100 days of aHSCT, three patients died (1.4 percent); in patients transplanted after 2007, no deaths occurred.

"Previous research shows more than half of the people with MS who take medication for their disease still get worse over a 10-year period," a coauthor said in a statement. "Our results are exciting because they show hematopoietic stem cell transplants may prevent someone's MS disabilities from getting worse over the longer term."

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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