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UK NewsStem cell transplants could be offered to MS patients in new trialIn a world-first trial, the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust will investigate the efficacy of stem cell transplantation compared to four drug treatments currently the standard of care for the treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS).The trial will assess whether patients with aggressive or relapsing forms of MS could be treated with stem cell transplants as a first-line treatment, especially as patients with highly active MS often don’t respond to drug treatments.The £2.3m trial has already begun in Sheffield, and plans to eventually operate across 19 UK sites. The new treatment consists of autologous haematopoietic stem cell transplantation (AHSCT), which will be compared to four drugs: alemtuzumab, ocrelizumab, ofatumumab and cladribine. This research will build on the results of the MIST trial, which showed that stem cell transplants could reverse disability in MS patients, and that AHSCT was more effective than disease-modifying drugs, however there have been vast developments in the drugs available since the MIST trial concluded.Basil Sharrack, lead trial neurologist, honorary professor of clinical neurology at the University of Sheffield and consultant neurologist at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, commented: “Currently, there is no cure for multiple sclerosis, but huge advances have been made in recent years, with the MIST trial offering renewed hope for people living with this devastating condition. We now want to bring this research up to date, by taking into account all the latest advances in treatments.”Professor Sharrack continued: “This could also provide us with the solid evidence we need to demonstrate that AHSCT can be offered as a first-line treatment for those with the aggressive form of the condition. We are delighted to be using our internationally renowned expertise in stem cell transplantation to bring this latest research to the potential benefit of thousands of patients.”