Many multiple sclerosis (MS) patients consider autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplant (aHSCT) potentially effective in treating their disease, but most report needing more — and more reliable — information to make a reasoned decision regarding its benefits and risks, a survey found.
Those who are dissatisfied with their current therapies, have shorter disease duration, or greater disability were also the most likely to consider aHSCT as an immediate or future treatment.
The study “Patients’ expectations of autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation as a treatment for MS” was published in the journal Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders.
For an aHSCT, a patient’s own (i.e., autologous) healthy hematopoietic (blood cell-producing) stem cells are collected from bone marrow. Then the person undergoes a partial or complete ablation of their immune system, using a combination of chemotherapy and other approaches. After immunoablation, the collected stem cells are re-infused to reconstitute the immune system.
This strategy is intended to build a new immune system, one that does not attack myelin, the protective layer surrounding nerve fibers.
aHSCT use has shown promising results, but it has not been directly compared to other treatments in controlled and randomized clinical trials in MS patients. As a result, what’s known about this experimental therapy is not sufficient for clinicians to recommend it as a treatment option for MS, despite an apparent growing interest.
“In daily practice, neurologists, including the authors, not only notice an increasing number of questions regarding aHSC, but also unrealistic expectations in many patients,” the researchers wrote.
A research team in the Netherlands conducted a survey to objectively evaluate patients’ expectations regarding aHSCT, and to better understand the sources of information they rely on.
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