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Hematology. 2007 Jun;12(3):179-91.

Haemopoietic stem cell transplantation--an evolving treatment for severe autoimmune and inflammatory diseases in rheumatology, neurology and gastroenterology.

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  • 1Department of Haematology, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield, UK.


The concept of haemopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) to treat severe autoimmune diseases has been around for several decades. Advances in the safety of HSCT have made it a clinical reality since 1995. Databases have registered around a thousand patients treated specifically for a wide range of diseases, predominantly multiple sclerosis (MS), systemic sclerosis (SSc), rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Phase I/II prospective and retrospective studies have supported the potential of autologous HSCT as a treatment option in severely affected patients, with profound and prolonged clinical responses in some diseases, although procedures are generally not curative. Allogeneic HSCT appears to offer curative potential, but the potential of high toxicity has limited its use in this context. The exact role of HSCT remains to be defined, particularly in the context of other advances in the treatment of autoimmune disease. Along with other groups, the European Group for Blood and Marrow Transplantation (EBMT) are overseeing several phase III trials in autologous transplantation. Given the risks of the HSCT, eligibility is restricted to patients who have severe, treatment resistant disease, in whom the prognosis is otherwise poor. This review aims to summarise the current published data in this evolving treatment for relatively rare patients with resistant or rapidly progressive disease where treatment options are otherwise limited. This cross-fertilization of knowledge between many specialties may provide increasing therapeutic opportunities in otherwise untreatable diseases. Moreover, destroying and rebuilding immune systems may provide insights into autoimmune diseases.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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