A commonly used treatment method to treat blood cancers by'resetting'the immune system could slow the progression of a common form of multiple sclerosis, a study suggests.
Scientists said they hope that the treatment could be included as a standard of care in treating MS in the future.
After chemotherapy, the blood cells are harvested from their own bone marrow or blood and reintroduced.
The procedure could help slow the progression of relapsing remitting MS, according to a Swedish study.
The symptoms of the condition can get worse but are followed by a recovery period.
After each relapse, their disability can become worse than before, he said.
The team surveyed 231 individuals, 174 of whom had been treated with aHSCT before 2020.
The study included those who had MS for more than three years and had received two lots of standard treatment.
In 73.7 percent of those treated after five years and in 65 percent after 10 years, the study found no evidence of disease activity.
Among the 149 patients who had some disability to begin with, 54 per cent improved, 37 per cent remained stable and nine per cent got worse.
On average patients, they relapsing 1.7 times in a year before the aHSCT treatment.
The average relapse rate for the treatment was one every 30 years.
The authors, who published their findings in the journal of Neurology Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, said they demonstrated that aHSCT is feasible within regular healthcare and can be performed without compromising safety.
The MS Society UK says there are more than 130,000 people with the condition in the UK and 7,000 are newly diagnosed each year.
Symptoms of fatigue include muscle spasms and pain, and problems with vision, mobility, thinking, talking and swallowing.
The disability caused by MS is the result of damaged or degradation of the myelin that envelops and protects the nerves of the central and peripheral nervous system, said Professor Alena Pance, a senior lecturer in genetics at the University of Hertfordshire.
The absence of control groups treated only with regular treatments makes it difficult to assess the magnitude of the effect of aHSCT.
But she cited a trial comparing aHSCT and disease-modifying therapy, which showed similar positive effects of aHSCT in terms of longer time to disease progression and better outcomes than DMT.
''HSCT on the NHS is subject to strict eligibility criteria and can be difficult to access,'' said Sarah Rawlings, executive director of research and external affairs at the MS Society.
t work for everyone with MS, but it has been an important development in MS treatment and some people see life-changing results. This study provides further evidence as to how it can help slow the progress of symptoms.
Dr Rawlings also urged patients to consider the StarMS study, which is looking at the effectiveness of stem cell transplants compared to the latest DMTs.
Some patients in the trial will be given stem cell transplants if they have 'highly active multiple sclerosis failing drug treatment' or as a first-line treatment for patients with the aggressive multiple sclerosis.
Other drugs that have been shown promise in clinical trials are alemtuzumab, ocrelizumab, ofatumumab or cladribine.
The results are encouraging, but only observe how disability progresses after HSCT and so strengthen the need for randomised controlled trials comparing HSCT with the most highly effective DMTs, said Dr Rawlings.