Despite the current availability of disease modifying therapies for the treatment of multiple sclerosis, there are still patients who suffer from severe neurological dysfunction in the relapsing-remitting or early progressive forms of the disease. For these patients autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplant offers an important therapeutic solution to prevent progression to irreversible disability. In spite of multiple studies in the last two decades, patient inclusion criteria, protocols for peripheral blood stem cell mobilization and bone marrow cell conditioning and methodology of follow up for autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplant in multiple sclerosis have not been strictly unified.
METHODS:We reviewed five recent clinical studies that confirmed the positive outcome of transplant in spite of disclosing significant differences in methodology of enrollment including patient disease subtypes, disease duration range, disability, regimens of peripheral blood stem cell mobilization and bone marrow cell conditioning, scheduling of imaging studies after transplant, and absence of laboratory biomarkers consistently applied to these studies.
Therapy with autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplant has shown best results among young individuals with severe relapsing-remitting or early progressive disease through its ability to maintain no evidence of disease activity status in a significantly higher proportion of patients after transplant in comparison to patients treated with disease modifying therapies. Important cross-sectional differences in the reviewed studies were found.
A specific and careful selection of biomarkers, based on the current physiopathological mechanisms known to result in multiple sclerosis, will contribute to a better and earlier patient selection for autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplant and follow up process. An objective and measurable response could be obtained with the determination of biomarkers at the onset of treatment and after follow-up on reconstitution of the immune response. The application of such parameters could also help further our understanding of pathogenesis of the disease. Have we got the biomarker?