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Advising patients seeking stem cell interventions for multiple sclerosis
  1. Beatrice von Wunster1,2,
  2. Steven Bailey1,3,
  3. Alastair Wilkins1,3,
  4. David I Marks4,
  5. Neil J Scolding1,3,
  6. Claire M Rice1,3
  1. 1 Clinical Neurosciences, Translational Health Sciences, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
  2. 2 School of Medicine, Vita-Salute san Raffaele University, Milan, Italy
  3. 3 Bristol and Avon MS Unit, Bristol Brain Centre, North Bristol NHS Trust, Southmead Hospital, Bristol, UK
  4. 4 Department of Haematology, University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, Bristol, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Claire M Rice, Clinical Neurosciences, Translational Health Sciences, University of Bristol, Learning and Research Building, Southmead Hospital, Bristol, BS10 5NB, UK; C.M.Rice{at}


Given the intuitive potential of stem cell therapy and limitations of current treatment options for progressive multiple sclerosis (MS), it is not surprising that patients consider undertaking significant clinical and financial risks to access stem cell transplantation. However, while increasing evidence supports autologous haematopoietic stem cell transplantation (AHSCT) in aggressive relapsing–remitting MS, interventions employing haematopoietic or other stem cells should otherwise be considered experimental and recommended only in the context of a properly regulated clinical study. Understandably, most neurologists are unfamiliar with AHSCT procedures and the specific requirements for quality assurance and safety standards, as well as post-procedure precautions and follow-up. Consequently they may feel ill-equipped to advise patients. Here, we highlight important points for discussion in consultations with patients considering stem cell ‘tourism’ for MS.

  • multiple sclerosis
  • stem cells
  • cell therapy
  • haematopoietic stem cell transplanation

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  • Contributors All authors contributed to the text. BvW designed the graphic.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests Not declared.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned. Externally reviewed by Alasdair Coles, Cambridge, UK.

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