Back to life after MS

19 January 2016 - 02:25 By ©The Daily Telegraph

A pioneering new stem cell treatment is reversing and then halting the crippling ravages of multiple sclerosis. Patients embarking on a ground-breaking trial of the new treatment have found that they can walk again and that the disease appears to have been stopped in its tracks.Holly Drewry, 25, of Sheffield, UK, who was wheelchair-bound after the birth of her two-year-old daughter, Isla, claims the new treatment has transformed her life.She told the BBC's Panorama programme: "I couldn't walk steadily. I couldn't trust myself holding [Isla] in case I fell. Being a new mum I wanted to do it all properly but my MS was stopping me."It is scary because you think: When is it going to end?"She is being treated at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital, in Sheffield, and at King's College Hospital, London. She is being given high doses of a cancer chemotherapy drug to destroy her faulty immune system. The system will be rebuilt with stem cells taken from her blood."I started seeing changes within days of the stem cells being put in," she said."I walked out of the hospital. I walked into my house and hugged Isla. I cried and cried. It was overwhelming. It was a miracle."It has been confirmed that her MS is in remission and there is a good chance that it will not return.For other patients, the results have been equally dramatic.Steven Storey was a marathon runner and triathlete before he was struck down by MS and completely paralysed."I couldn't flicker a muscle," he said. But within nine days of the treatment he could move his toe and after 10 months managed a long swim. He has managed to ride a bicycle and can walk again."It was great. I felt I was back," he said.Storey celebrated his first transplant birthday with his daughters. His treatment has been reviewed and, as in Drewry's case, there was no evidence of active disease.The treatment - which effectively "reboots" the immune system - is the first to reverse the symptoms of MS, which has no cure and affects millions of people worldwide..Stem cells are so effective because they can mature into any type of cell in the body, based on their environment.Although it is not known what causes MS, some doctors believe it is a malfunctioning immune system, which attacks nerves in the brain and spinal cord, leading to inflammation and pain, disability and, in severe cases, death.Basil Sharrack, a consultant neurologist at Sheffield Teaching Hospital, NHS Foundation Trust, said: "Since we started treating patients three years ago, some of the results we have seen have been miraculous." ..

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