Remarkable Results in Multiple Sclerosis Clinical Trial Employing Immune System Ablation and Autologous Stem Cell Transplantation; Clinical Relapses Halted in 23 of 24 Patients for Prolonged Period

A new use of chemotherapy followed by autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (aHSCT) has fully halted clinical relapses and development of new brain lesions in 23 of 24 patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) for a prolonged period without the need for ongoing medication, according to results of a new phase 2 clinical trial, published online on June 9, 2026 in The Lancet. The article is titled: “Immunoablation and Autologous Haemopoietic Stem-Cell Transplantation for Aggressive Multiple Sclerosis: A Multicentre Single-Group Phase 2 Trial.” Eight of the 23 patients had a sustained improvement in their disability 7.5 years after treatment. This is the first treatment to produce this level of disease control or neurological recovery from MS, but treatment-related risks limit its widespread use. MS is among the most common chronic inflammatory diseases of the central nervous system, with approximately 2 million people affected worldwide. It is caused when the immune system attacks the body, known as autoimmunity. Some specialist centers offer aHSCT for MS, which involves harvesting bone marrow stem cells from the patient, using chemotherapy to suppress the patient's immune system, and reintroducing the stem cells into the blood stream to "reset" the immune system to stop it attacking the body. However, many patients relapse after these treatments, so more reliable and effective methods are needed. Dr. Harold L. Atkins and Dr. Mark S. Freedman from The Ottawa Hospital and the University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada, and colleagues tested whether complete destruction, rather than suppression, of the immune system during aHSCT would reduce the relapse rate in patients and increase long-term disease remission.
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