Stem Cell Therapy for MS: 5-year results from the HALT-MS clinical trial

In our March 23rd article, ”Stem Cell Transplants Could Provide Long-Term Remission for Patients with MS we shared the positive 3 year results of stem cell transplant in patients with remitting-relapsing MS. In this article, we will share with you the results from a 5 year trial sponsored by the National Institute of Health.

The 5-year results a from a trial called HALT-MS, sponsored by the National Institute of Health, were published in February, 2017, in the journal of the American Academy of Neurology. The results showed high-dose immunosuppressive therapy followed by a stem cell transplant stopped the disease and improved symptoms.

Study participants received high-dose treatment with carmustine, etoposide, cytarabine, and melphalan as well as rabbit antithymocyte globulin before autologous HCT. The primary end point of HALT-MS is event-free survival defined as survival without death or disease activity from any one of the following outcomes: confirmed loss of neurologic function, clinical relapse, or new lesions observed on magnetic resonance imaging.

The purpose of the HALT-MS trial was to evaluate the safety, efficacy, and durability of high-dose immunosuppressive therapy followed by autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplant in patients with remitting-relapsing MS who experience active disease despite taking currently approved medications. Twenty-five patients with RRMS were enrolled in the trial and evaluated for five years after hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. Patients stopped taking available medications at enrollment and at 5-years at HCT, 69 percent of the patients continue to experience remission of the disease with no progression of disability, no relapses of symptoms and no new brain lesions.

Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, Director of NIAID, shared his belief that these 5-year extended findings suggest that one-time chemo and stem cell treatment may be significantly more effective than treatment with the best available medications for people with remitting-relapsing MS.

“…these five-year results suggest the promise of this treatment for inducing long-term, sustained remissions of poor-prognosis relapsing-remitting MS.”   Richard Nash, M.D., Principal Investigator

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic, inflammatory, demyelinating disease of the central nervous system.  The disease is characterized by recurrent episodes of focal inflammatory demyelination resulting in neurological symptoms.  Conventional therapy reduces or stops the episodes of inflammation but does not effectively impact the course of progressive MS. The most common form of MS is relapsing-remitting.

More and more data from international studies support the use of chemotherapy and stem cell transplantation for the effective treatment of RRMS. The Stem Cell Transplant Institute in Costa Rica uses adult autologous stem cells for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases including MS.  The team of experts at The Stem Cells Transplant Institute believes in the potential of stem cell therapy for the treatment of multiple sclerosis and we are committed to providing personalized service and the highest quality of care to every patient. Contact us today to learn more about stem cell therapy.



RA Nash et al. High-dose immunosuppressive therapy and autologous HCT for relapsing-remitting MS. Neurology. 2017 Feb 28; 88(9): 842-852.