Best Life: New multiple sclerosis therapy gives hope
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. Many patients are on these drugs for life.
“Some of these medications are very effective in reducing the number of relapses that do occur,” said UCI Health neurologist, Dr. Michael Sy, MD.
But nothing stops the progression.
“It is frustrating when we see patients declining and can’t do much more for them,” he said.
Dr. Sy is part of a handful of doctors in the world using an experimental leading-edge stem cell transplant to fight MS.
“Bone marrow transplant offers the opportunity to just completely reset the immune system,” said Dr. Sy.
AHSCT is an immunosuppressive therapy that involves harvesting a patient’s 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,” said Dr. Sy.
No more relapses, no more medication, and for 65% of the patients, the progression stops, potentially life-changing for millions.
Because 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.
Contributors to this news report include: Marsha Lewis, Producer; Roque Correa, Videographer & Editor.
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