We can add another disease to list of conditions that can now be treated with bone marrow stem cell transplants: myasthenia gravis (MG).
This week, CTV News in Ottawa told the story of Anne Scott, a 58-year-old Kemptville, Ontario woman whose MG refused to respond to conventional therapies.
MG is an autoimmune disorder like multiple sclerosis (MS). It interrupts communication between the muscles and the nerves, which can make swallowing and breathing difficult.
While most patients can be treated with conventional therapies, some, like Scott, cannot. She had to be placed on life support a dozen times.
Under the supervision of The Ottawa Hospital’s Dr. Harry Atkins, Scott underwent a chemotherapy/stem cell procedure. Essentially, it involves one using a patient’s own blood stem cells to rebuild their immune system after it has been wiped out by chemo therapy. If all goes well, the rebuilt immune system is free of the disease.
Dr. Atkins has had success using this approach to treat patients with MS, Stiff Person’s Syndrome, neuromyelitis optica and Crohn’s disease. The procedure has been used to treat leukemia and other forms of blood-based cancer for decades.
Scott, who was able to attend her daughter’s wedding shortly after undergoing the procedure, was one of seven patients in a study led by Dr. Atkins, the results of which have been reported in in JAMA Neurology All seven patients no longer need treatment for MG and are symptom-free.
You can find out more about the study here.