This blog’s story about the outcome of the long-term clinical trial of stem cell therapy was deleted from one Facebook group on the grounds that it did not wish to allow anything that would give its members ‘false hope’.
Actually, nor do I.
That is why, writing both in Multiple Sclerosis News Today and here, I very carefully kept to the findings as published in The Lancet, plus comments made afterwards.
The fact is that this was the first long-term clinical trial of the same procedure as used today in major HSCT clinics worldwide. It was a small trial but that was acknowledged by the researchers who said a larger trial was necessary.
I purposely did not say, as many journalists did, that scientists are close to finding a cure. Theaustralian.com.au said ‘Multiple Sclerosis cure very near’ while thetimes.co.uk said ‘Scientists close to a cure for multiple sclerosis’. That was not a statement made in the study’s report, nor was it claimed afterwards. I can see little justification for headlines mentioning a ‘cure’. Just one doctor, a stem cell biologist not involved in the trial described it as ‘close to being curative’.
HSCT or, more correctly, aHSCT has never been claimed to be a cure. Despite some notable anecdotal tales of the disease being reversed in some people, the therapy has only ever been claimed to stop MS progressing; to stop it getting worse.
And that is what the clinical trial proved. It said relapses were halted and MRI scans showed no new brain lesions.
The word ‘cure’ was not mentioned in the report of the trial, nor in my story about it. So, no false hope there!
It is a shame that members of one FB group were denied the opportunity of seeing my fair and objective article on this issue.
Now, if I had wanted to court controversy or talk about ‘false hope’, I could have written about CCVI and its supposed link with MS, which is unsupported scientifically. The whole issue of CCVI still divides opinion and is, at best, unproved by any clinical trial that meets accepted standards. That may change in the future. Who knows?