The Ottawa Hospital in Canada has recently concluded a study, the reports of which suggest that autologous haemotopoietic stem cells i.e blood forming stem cells from the patient’s own body can treat Myasthenia gravis (MG) an auto-immune disease that causes severe muscle weakness.
Myasthenia Gravis is an auto-immune disease that begins with painless weakness of specific muscles and slowly progresses to the extremities shunting ability to perform basic life functions. The condition affects the muscles around the eyes, mouth & jaw, voice, head & neck and in some cases also affects the respiratory muscles necessitating assisted ventilation to sustain life.
The Ottawa Hospital has reported 7 cases of severe MG. These patients were having persistent severe or life-threatening MG-related symptoms in spite of receiving continuous, intensive immunosuppressive treatments. Futher to the treatment using autologous haemotopoietic stem cells, the patients have been experiencing a symptom-free and treatment-free remission.
The patients were first given intensive conditioning chemotherapy, followed by graft infusion for blood and immune reconstitution. The primary outcome of the treatment was measured by means of frequency of emergency visits to the hospital. All of the 7 patients achieved complete, stable remission with no residual MG symptoms and freedom from any ongoing MG therapy. This study opens up new possibilities for application of autologous haematopoietic stem cells to other autoimmune neurological conditions.