Thursday, March 9, 2017

MS 'brain fog' lifted after stem cell treatment

MS 'brain fog' lifted after stem cell treatment

BBC journalist Caroline Wyatt has spoken of how the "brain fog began to lift" after she had pioneering treatment for multiple sclerosis (MS).

The former BBC defence correspondent was deemed unsuitable for an NHS trial and paid $60,000 (£48,000) for a stem cell transplant in Mexico in January.

Both the FDA and the NHS criteria for suitability for clinical trials are complex and often eliminate patients who have had prior treatments which could confound and yield inaccurate results from a clinical trial.  This screening requirement eliminates large numbers of candiate volunteers from the study.   The criteria are derived from collaboration of principal investigators and the FDA.

Many patients seek out prospective treatments in other countries who have less stringent requirements for receiving new (ie, experimental treatments)

Caroline Wyatt is one of those patients.

Multiple sclerosis

In MS the protective layer surrounding nerve fibres in the brain and spinal cord - known as myelin - becomes damaged. The immune system mistakenly attacks the myelin, causing scarring or sclerosis.
The damaged myelin disrupts the nerve signals - rather like the short circuit caused by a frayed electrical cable.
If the process of inflammation and scarring is not treated then eventually the condition can cause permanent neurodegeneration.

'Aggressive treatment'

She changed jobs but, following a relapse in 2001, she was given a brain scan and told she might have MS - a diagnosis that was confirmed following more invasive tests such as a spinal tap in 2015.  Wyatt initially tried various drug treatments but as her condition began to deteriorate she began to investigate the stem cell treatment.  "I got in touch with Sheffield who were the British arm of a trial... and they very kindly agreed to see me," she said.
"They did various tests but decided in the end that medically speaking I was not one of the best candidates so they couldn't do it here."

Wyatt said that although UK bodies such as the NHS and watchdog NICE describe the treatment as experimental, about 80% of people who had the treatment responded to some degree and more than 50% saw the progression of their MS halted.

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