Sunday, August 21, 2005

Article about autologous stem cell transplants for MS

Kim from Mandatory Rest Period and the MS Podcast pointed me to a story that discusses research on autologous stem cell transplantation as 'rescue therapy' for MS. The procedure involves destroying the immune system with a near-lethal dose of chemotherapy and then replacing it with stem cells from the patient's blood and bone marrow. The article is based on a CTV documentary called "The Pioneers."

Under Dr. Freedman's careful watch, John coped well with the punishing treatment. But then suddenly, his liver started to give out after weeks of brutal chemotherapy. "It was a known complication that can occur when you use very high doses of that particular agent," explains Dr. Freedman. John's liver never recovered. He was just 40 when he died.

As John's family mourned his death, Dr. Freedman also struggled with the loss. "We're allowed to have I think two deaths out of the first 18 patients or something is what we figured for," he says. "Well, I was figuring on none. And I was not prepared to accept even one." Freedman says John was a hero. His widow prefers to call him a pioneer.

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Kim said...

So, would you do the treatment? If worse came to worse, I think I would...
I did some more research last night looking for a formal update on how the trial is going, but can only find info on them still recruiting patients for the trial. They have treatment centers in Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa I believe.

Doug Lee-Knowles said...

God, I don't know what it would take for me to consider a stem cell transplant. I suppose if I lost the ability to walk, and Novantrone failed to stop further progression, I might. The possibility of not only stopping the progression of MS but actually reversing it to some extent is tantalizing.

On the other hand, a good friend recently went through two stem cell transplants after developing agressive lymphoma. She's doing OK now, but went through untold days of near-death suffering as a result of the heavy-duty chemo. I can't imagine going through that.

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