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Stem cells 'used effectively, first time' on NMO disease

Milan doctors say auto-immune illness 'halted, no relapse'

27 January, 15:51
Stem cells 'used effectively, first time' on NMO disease (ANSA) - Milan, January 27 - A bone-marrow transplant using stem cells to cure a grave autoimmune illness has been performed in Milan "for the first time in the world, and with promising results," the San Raffaele hospital said Monday. With the help of a donor, doctors said they were able to effectively treat Neuromyelitis optica (NMO), also known as Devic's disease, which causes the immune system to attack the optic nerve and the spinal cord, leading to rapid disabilities. After the transplant, "the illness was halted, the neurological deficits were partially reversed, and after two years there isn't one sign of relapse," said a statement from the team led by Fabio Ciceri at the department of neurology. The rare disease strikes fewer than one in 100,000 people.

For now the treatment is limited to a small number of patients as it undergoes further trials. "This research suggests that in the future, such transplants can be an effective strategy against forms of the disease that do not respond to other treatments," doctors said.