Immune system 'reboot' could help halt progress of Multiple Sclerosis

'We are re-growing the entire immune system', Doctor Mark Freedman explains new treatment for multiple sclerosis

The new treatment could halt the progression of MS

Friday, June 10, 2016

Scientists in Canada have carried out a successful 'reboot' of the immune system in a bid to halt the progression of the incurable neurological disease multiple sclerosis. 

The small study has showed that aggressive chemotherapy, followed by a stem-cell transplant to rebuild the immune system, greatly reduced the onset of the disease in 23 of the 24 test subjects. 

There are inherent risks in the treatment, though, with the 24th patient dying during treatment. 

Doctor Mark Freedman, senior scientist at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, told Yasmeen Khan. "The study started in the fall of 2001, so we've been following the patients for 15 years.

"[During that time] we recognised that the medications we had were truly inadequate to control the disease in a lot of people.

"We are re-growing the entire immune system, as if [the patient] was a baby.

"We are hoping that [in the process] we also eliminate the subset of cells that were determined to continue to attack the brain and spinal cord.

"If we follow the patients long enough we should see, and be able to demonstrate, not only that we've eradicated those cells, but  that we've eradicated any cause for ongoing disease."