Can stem cell therapy really treat multiple sclerosis?

Multiple sclerosis (MS) sufferer Eric Thompson was able to rise from his wheelchair and walk just days after treatment with haematopoietic stem cells, according to a recent Daily Mail article. Unable to receive this aggressive treatment through the NHS, Thompson and his family raised £40,000 to undergo the treatment in Mexico.

The treatment Thompson received is called autologous haematopoietic stem cell transplantation (AHSCT). It involves extracting stem cells from the affected person’s bone marrow or blood. After the person has undergone intensive chemotherapy to wipe out their immune system, the stem cells are then reintroduced. It’s done to try to reboot the immune system. The use of intensive high-dose chemotherapy and the transplant process is an arduous procedure for this potent treatment.

According to Cancer Research UK donor stem cell transplants are used as a treatment for some types of cancer, including leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma. However, it’s probably premature to recommend AHSCT as a treatment for MS.

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