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Major advance in understanding risky but effective multiple sclerosis treatment
Date:3/26/2013

A new study by Multiple Sclerosis researchers at three leading Canadian centres addresses why bone marrow transplantation (BMT) has positive results in patients with particularly aggressive forms of MS. The transplantation treatment, which is performed as part of a clinical trial and carries potentially serious risks, virtually stops all new relapsing activity as observed upon clinical examination and brain MRI scans. The study reveals how the immune system changes as a result of the transplantation. Specifically, a sub-set of T cells in the immune system known as Th17 cells, have a substantially diminished function following the treatment. The finding to be published in the upcoming issue of Annals of Neurology and currently in the early online version, provides important insight into how and why BMT treatment works as well as how relapses may develop in MS.

"Our study examined why patients essentially stop having relapses and new brain lesions after the bone marrow transplant treatment, which involves ablative chemotherapy followed by stem cell transplantation using the patient's own cells," said Prof. Amit Bar-Or, the principle investigator of the study, who is a neurologist and MS researcher at The Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital -The Neuro, McGill University, and Director of The Neuro's Experimental Therapeutics Program. "We discovered differences between the immune responses of these patients before and after treatment, which point to a particular type of immune response as the potential perpetrator of relapses in MS."

"Although the immune system that re-emerges in these patients from their stem cells is generally intact, we identified a selectively diminished capacity of their Th17 immune responses following therapy - which could explain the lack of new MS disease activity. In untreated patients, these Th17 cells may be particularly important in breaching the blood-brain-barrier, which normally protects the centr
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Contact: Anita Kar
anita.kar@mcgill.ca
514-398-3376
McGill University
Source:Eurekalert

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