Canadian doctors have managed to reverse severe MS by using stem cells, virtually eliminating it from a patient’s body. Jennifer Molson had paralytic MS before participating in a study that included chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant in 2002. Molson was part of a small group of 24 people who received the high-risk experimental treatment.
Led by Dr. Mark Freedman and Harold Atkins at The Ottawa Hospital, the clinical trial lasted more than 13 years.
Of the patients, 70 percent saw the progression of their disease stopped or reversed, their symptoms began to decline. While Molson could barely walk or feed before the experience, she now drives, kayaks, runs and skis, and has had no symptoms of the disease for 14 years.
It has been hailed as remarkable by industry professionals because the test seems to “cure” people of their symptoms.
The group’s experience has been documented in an article published in The Lancet. It is the first to describe any treatment for MS that completely stops the disease in the long term without MS drugs. This is the first treatment to produce this level of disease control or neurological recovery “of SP, The Lancet said in a press release.
Multiple sclerosis affects 20 million people worldwide, but tends to target women in more temperate climates, such as Canada and the northern United States.
The disease is characterized by an immune system that excites its host and attacks the protective layer around the nerve fibers in the brain and spinal cord. These attacks can severely damage and destroy the nerves and the protective lining, affecting the communication between the brain and the body and causing symptoms such as numbness, loss of balance, difficulty walking, loss of control of the body. bowel and bladder, and even blindness.
Over time, patients lose control of their bodies and often end up in wheelchairs.
All types of MS do not affect the same way. The least worse are the outbreaks, as the symptoms come and go and can be followed by long periods of remission. For most people, however, this version of the disease usually progresses in secondary progressive MS over time, so that symptoms begin to stay. The most aggressive form of the disease is primary progressive MS. In this case, patients do not experience episodes of remission, but rather a continuous deterioration of their state of health and a worsening of their symptoms.
At the time of her treatment, Molson had secondary progressive MS. Before the stem cell trials, nothing had worked to improve her symptoms.
The treatment is essentially a vast combination of chemotherapy and cell transplantation that are designed to restart the immune system. Doctors take bone marrow stem cells from their patients, then purify and freeze the cells. The patients are then subjected to extensive chemotherapy before returning the cells to the patients.
The idea is to cleanse and restart the immune system so that it does not have the memory to attack the central nervous system.
According to The Lancet, this trial completely interrupted clinical relapses in all patients and stopped the development of all new brain lesions without any medication. Other stem cell transplants have resulted in short-term positive results in patients with multiple sclerosis, but the symptoms have always returned.
What makes the Ottawa test different is that unlike previous attempts to suppress the immune system, it cleans it completely.
Although promising, the treatment is considered to have an extremely high risk, which limits its widespread use. There are high rates of mortality associated with the test; a patient in the clinical trial died of liver failure. It should also be noted that 30 per cent of patients experienced worsening symptoms, probably because their MS had already evolved too much.
Only five percent of multiple sclerosis patients are eligible for this type of treatment. But for those who are, it is a “miracle cure” and The Lancet encourages more clinical trials.