14 June 2016

Resetting the immune system

A radical new method of treating multiple sclerosis has proven its effectiveness

Anatoly Alizar, "Giktimes"

Canadian doctors have reported the results of clinical trials of a radical approach to the treatment of multiple sclerosis with their own hematopoietic stem cells, writes New Scientist (Extreme cure for MS reboots immune system – but can be fatal). Their proposed method can be called extreme. Imagine that treatment will either completely rid you of the disease, or kill you.

Nevertheless, the test results are encouraging. Some patients confined to a wheelchair have completely got rid of the symptoms and are now back to a full life, which can be called a miracle.

Multiple sclerosis is a chronic autoimmune disease in which the myelin sheath of nerve fibers is affected. The disease has nothing to do with "senile sclerosis" (such a disease does not exist at all) and is radically different in terms of symptoms.

In multiple sclerosis, a person's own immune system attacks the body by attacking the protective myelin sheath of nerve fibers in the brain, spinal cord and optic nerve. The foci of the disease are gradually growing. Myelin acts as electrical insulation for electrically conductive nerve fibers. Widespread violation of isolation leads to disturbances in the transmission of current through the electrical circuit throughout the body. The nervous system gradually begins to malfunction, a person is struck by blindness or paralysis, and eventually the nervous system completely fails, which means death.


Multiple sclerosis occurs at a young and middle age (15-40 years). The causes of the disease are completely unknown to doctors, but to date several factors have been found that correlate with the appearance of multiple sclerosis.

  • The distance from the equator (probably due to a decrease in the production of endogenous and consumption of exogenous vitamin D in areas with less sunlight), the high–risk zone - regions north of the 30th parallel on all continents.
  • Stress.
  • Smoking.
  • Vaccination against hepatitis B (despite the results of a scientific study, the World Health Organization has published a statement that the analysis of available information does not confirm the hypothesis that vaccination against hepatitis B increases the risk of developing the disease).
  • Low uric acid levels.

The main feature of the disease is the simultaneous defeat of several different parts of the nervous system, which leads to the appearance of various neurological symptoms in patients.

About 20 million people in the world suffer from multiple sclerosis, most often women living in more northern countries, such as Canada and Russia, the northern regions of the United States.

Existing medications can weaken the frequency or strength of immune system attacks on the myelin sheath of nerve cells, but do not eliminate the disease and do not work on some patients.

The radical approach of Canadian doctors involves treating the disease by completely destroying the existing immune system and reinstalling it with the help of stem cells. Stem cells are a special type of cells in the body that are able to specialize independently or give offspring in the form of specialized cell types. In this case, they are used to create a new immune system.

This method of treatment assumes that the disease should completely disappear. The immune system stops attacking the body. Moreover, as clinical tests have shown, over the years the human body is able to rebuild and eliminate the damage caused by the disease in previous years. That is, the nervous system repairs itself, so that the lost functions gradually return to the patient.

Despite the risky approach, the results of clinical trials are encouraging. For example, one of the patients who took part in the experiment Jennifer Molson (Jennifer Molson) from the Canadian province of Ontario decided on experimental radical treatment 14 years ago, when the disease reached such a stage that the girl was under the round-the-clock supervision of doctors in an Ottawa hospital, moving only on a walker, with a cane or in a wheelchair. When she was released for the weekend, her boyfriend took care of the girl, and she completely relied on his help: he cut her food and fed her, dressed her and bathed her in the bathroom. That is, Jennifer could no longer live a normal full life without outside help. By the time of the maximum development of the disease, the girl had lost control of her bladder and intestines.

Patients with such a severe form of multiple sclerosis will agree to any experimental solution, even a very risky one. Therefore, Jennifer Molson became one of the first to take part in clinical trials for a complete reset of the immune system. In 2002, doctors began destroying her immune system. She became one of 24 patients who were selected for the first clinical test of this experimental method.

Interestingly, this method of treating multiple sclerosis was discovered quite accidentally in the treatment of leukemia patients who simultaneously suffered from multiple sclerosis. Leukemia (leukemia) is a malignant disease of the hematopoietic system, one of the methods of treatment of which involves the extraction of bone marrow cells with the further destruction of the human immune system with the help of intensive chemotherapy. A sample of bone marrow cells is cleared of cancer cells and returned to the body to create a new, clean immune system. To the surprise of doctors, this method of restarting the immune system in some patients cured not only leukemia, but also multiple sclerosis.

Doctors have no idea why the immune system attacks the myelin sheath of nerve cells. According to one theory, this is a false triggering of the immune system in response to a viral infection, when the virus protein is similar to myelin. As in the case of allergic reactions, in such cases, the immune system does not have time to develop an antidote, so it reacts to a dangerous threat quickly and aggressively (but not always accurately). If this theory is correct, then reinstalling or restarting the immune system erases information about the signature of the allergen (virus) from its "memory", so that attacks on it stop.

Today, several medical centers in the world offer such a radical experimental treatment for multiple sclerosis, provided that the patient suffers from a severe form of the disease and conventional medications do not work. If the patient has a moderate disease, then doctors offer a milder form of chemotherapy, which reduces the likelihood of curing the disease.

Of the 24 patients who took part in the Canadian clinical test, 17 people managed to stop the development of the disease. However, resetting the immune system was not easy for them: chemotherapy is accompanied by hair loss, nail loss, nausea, diarrhea, it causes infertility and early menopause in women. But the most dangerous thing is the risk of infection, when a person's immune system is completely absent in the first weeks, and then very weak. It was because of the infection that one of the patients had to have a liver transplant, and he died due to complications of transplantation.

18 months after the start of treatment, Jennifer Molson noticed the first physical improvements, and after three years she was able to return to work. By now, her life has completely returned to normal, the disease has disappeared without a trace, and Jennifer is no different from all other healthy people. On weekends she skis and kayaks. On weekdays, Jennifer works as a researcher at the same Ottawa Hospital where she used to be as a terminally ill patient.

Jennifer Molson at different stages of recovery after treatment

Scientific work with the results of clinical tests in Canada was published on June 8, 2016 in The Lancet (Atkins et al., Immunoablation and autologous haemopoietic stem-cell transplantation for aggressive multiple sclerosis: a multicentre single-group phase 2 trial). This is the first scientific work in the world that describes the successful treatment of multiple sclerosis with a long-term positive effect without the use of special medications.

None of the patients had relapses of the disease after treatment with stem cells.

A total of 314 MRI procedures were performed (marked with strokes on the right diagram), the average time for tracking patients after treatment is 6-7 years. The cross means the death of the patient, the asterisk means the censorship of scientific research, when the patient subsequently received additional alternative, experimental or unreliable treatment, so that he was excluded from the sample.


"We all avoid this word with the letter "and", but these patients are cured," says Michael Rudnicki, director of the Regenerative Medicine Program and the Sprott Center for Stem Cell Research at the Ottawa Health Research Institute, who was not involved in the scientific work, so he can afford such loud expressions. – Jennifer Molson used a wheelchair in a rehabilitation center and could not work. And now she's skiing, got married and got her driver's license again. I think this will become the new standard for the treatment of progressive multiple sclerosis."

At the moment, the real mortality rate during treatment is 1% (not 4%, as in this clinical test on 24 patients). Now doctors want to try out another version of chemotherapy, which is less likely to cause complications on the liver. Perhaps the mortality rate will be reduced. You can try less radical chemotherapy options to find a balance between effectiveness and toxicity, experts say.

Portal "Eternal youth" http://vechnayamolodost.ru  14.06.2016

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