Sheffield Hosts the 3rd International Symposium on Stem Cell Treatment in Multiple Sclerosis
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Experts pioneering the use of stem cell transplantation in patients with multiple sclerosis have gathered in Sheffield to discuss the current and future potential of this game-changing treatment.
Hosted by Professor Basil Sharrack and Professor John Snowden, of Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, the recent 3rd International Symposium on Stem Cell Treatment in Multiple Sclerosis saw leading neurology and transplant haematology specialists from across the globe join with patients and MS Charities to share latest advances in the use of autologous haematopoietic stem cell transplantation (AHSCT) as a treatment for multiple sclerosis.
AHSCT is an intensive treatment, which involves destroying the patient’s faulty immune system before rebooting it with an injection of the patient’s own harvested stem cells and bone marrow following a course of chemotherapy. International research findings from the landmark MIST trial, in which Sheffield Teaching Hospitals was the sole UK site, showed that the treatment could halt – and even reverse – some of the symptoms of multiple sclerosis in certain patients.
During the event, delegates heard from patient Colette Edwards, who had a stem cell transplant six and a half years ago, and still has no active signs of the disease. BBC journalist Caroline Wyatt also shared her personal stem cell transplant journey and talked about the media perspective. Dr Catherine Godbold from the MS Society highlighted the Charity perspective.
Opening remarks for the symposium were provided by Professor Dame Pamela Shaw, Director of the Sheffield Institute for Translational Neuroscience and Honorary Consultant at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals and closing remarks by Dr David Black, Medical Director (Development) at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals.
In the afternoon, Professor John Snowden gave an update from the world-first StarMS trial, which is recruiting patients across 19 NHS units, and could see AHSCT offered as a first-line treatment for patients with aggressive multiple sclerosis in the near future. Other talks looked at sub-studies of the trial, including how the research hopes to shed new light on the precise mechanism the immune system uses to repair itself to stop inflammation in stem cell transplantation. Potential future developments in advanced cellular therapies were also discussed.
Professor Basil Sharrack, Consultant Neurologist, at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “It was an honour to host the third international symposium on stem cell treatment in multiple sclerosis here in Sheffield and to welcome our distinguished guests, patients and the MS Society, who provided fascinating insights and perspectives. We would also like to thank the University of Sheffield for providing us with such a fantastic venue to host this key event.”
Professor John Snowden, Consultant Haematologist at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “This symposium was a great way to showcase the incredible work that we have been developing for the past few years in Sheffield, alongside our international partners, to pioneer the use of stem cell transplantation as a treatment for certain MS patients. It was a privilege and honour to hear from patients such as Colette, and to share the latest news from the StarMS trial, which is now opening up in sites across the UK and will see us train up 19 NHS centres to deliver this treatment.”
The event was hosted by Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and took place at the Sheffield Institute for Translational Neuroscience on 20 January, with over 100 delegates attending.
Authorship - Claudia Blake, Senior Communications Specialist, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS FT
Professor John Snowden (left) and Professor Basil Sharrack (right)
Professors Snowden and Sharrack have worked together at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust for many years, hosting and attending various events together.