NIH Launches Clinical Trial that Compares Stem Cell Transplantation to Biologic Therapies for MS Treatment

January 10, 2020

The trial will test experimental stem-cell treatments against biologic therapies for severe forms of relapsing multiple sclerosis.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced on Jan. 7, 2020 that a clinical trial to test experimental stem-cell treatments against biologic therapies for severe forms of relapsing multiple sclerosis (MS) is now underway.

The trial, which is sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), will use autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (AHSCT) to remove the immune cells attacking MS patient’s central nervous systems and infuse them with their own blood-forming stem cells to repopulate the immune system, according to a company press release. Investigators will then measure the time between the patient’s treatment and a potential MS relapse.

Part of the trial will also involve comparing the stem cell treatment to high-efficacy biologic drugs. Participants will either receive AHSCT or a biologic drug and will then be monitored for six years by neurologists who will not know which type of treatment they were assigned, NIH said.

“For many people with MS- a chronic, debilitating, unpredictable and currently incurable disease-life can be a challenge,” said NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, MD, in the press release “AHSCT has the potential to halt the progress of relapsing MS, eliminate the need for a person to take lifelong medication, and allow the body to partially regain function. However, we need to be certain that the benefits of this form of treatment outweigh its serious risks.” 

Source: NIH