Latest MS Study Combines Treatments to Increase Remission Rates

By: Carrie Frye
Monday, January 5, 2015

A study by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) yielded extended remissions for patients coping with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS).

Nationwide, nearly 200 Americans face an MS diagnosis weekly, and the most commonly diagnosed form of the disease is RRMS, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

NIAID study participants received a combination of high-dose immunosuppressive therapy and autologous hematopoietic cell transplant and then were monitored for their progress over a three-year period. Researchers noted no additional brain lesions or increases in disabilities or symptoms associated with MS in approximately 80 percent of the subjects participating. They intend to collect data on the study’s patient outcomes for an additional two years.

Members of the study group had stem cells taken before receiving the chemotherapy doses. Injections of stem cells into participants afterwards to reconstruct participants’ immune systems has helped the majority of them remain in remission for the initial three-year phase of the study.

Other MS studies have not delivered equally promising results, producing only short remission periods and involving prolonged use of immunosuppressive drugs, which may have side effects, observed Daniel Rotrosen, MD, Director of NIAID’s Division of Allergy, Immunology and Transplantation, in a news release.

A few in the study group incurred side effects such as gastrointestinal issues. However, participants no longer took any MS medications once the study began, and most remained in remission. With a study group of 25 volunteers, the affirmative outcomes have prompted further assessments to expand future testing.