UAE: Breakthrough treatment gives multiple sclerosis patient newfound hope at Abu Dhabi hospital

Ehab, a resident diagnosed with MS in 2019, has experienced significant improvements in his symptoms following the ongoing clinical trial

by

Ashwani Kumar

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Published: Fri 13 Oct 2023, 11:04 AM

Giving new hope to individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS), Abu Dhabi Stem Cells Centre (ADSCC) has reported promising results in its ongoing clinical trial.

The centre has shared one of the success stories of a participant in its ongoing trials — the extracorporeal photopheresis (ECP) for optimal management of multiple sclerosis (PHOMS) study.


Ehab, a resident diagnosed with MS in 2019, has experienced significant improvements in his symptoms following the breakthrough treatment. The study evaluates the safety and efficacy of using ECP to treat people with MS. As an immunomodulatory therapy used for some cancer treatments, graft-versus-host disease (GvHD), and autoimmune diseases, ECP in this study seeks to alleviate MS symptoms by rebalancing the immune system of the patient.

And when Ehab came to know about this new and unique clinical trial, he agreed to participate. Before being part of the study, he experienced debilitating symptoms such as difficulty walking, imbalance, gait disturbance, slurred speech, and cognitive impairment. After six months of treatment with ECP, Ehab has reported major improvements in mobility, reduced imbalance-related issues and clearer speech. These improvements have been consistently observed during his three-month neurological testing.


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“After the treatment, there has been a significant improvement in my mobility. My vision is now better and my hand movements have become stronger,” Ehab noted.

Last year, ADSCC’s trial received approval from the Department of Health — Abu Dhabi (DoH), and since then has enrolled a group of participants diagnosed with secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS) or relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS). The trial is also registered in the global clinical trials registry ClinicalTrials.gov.

According to experts at ADSCC — a PureHealth subsidiary, such clinical trials and research efforts signify an “extraordinary chapter” in the centre’s medical history.

Dr Yendry Ventura, principal investigator in the PHOMS study at ADSCC, noted such trials and research play a pivotal role in advancing healthcare and bringing cutting-edge innovations within the public’s reach.

“In line with the vision of the UAE’s leadership and as leaders in clinical research in UAE, our clinical trials and research efforts at ADSCC signify an extraordinary chapter in our medical history and expedite our pursuit of a healthier society and establishing Abu Dhabi as a prominent global destination for healthcare, innovation and research. The clinical outcome of our patients in this clinical trial is a milestone that underscores our dedication to rewriting the narrative of MS treatment in the region.”

Dr Fatima Al Kaabi, executive director of the Abu Dhabi Bone Marrow Transplant Programme (AD-BMT) at Abu Dhabi Stem Cells Centre, investigator in PHOMS Study, and vice chair of the National MS Society, said: “ADSCC is proud to be at the forefront of innovative research in the field of multiple sclerosis treatment, and through groundbreaking therapies and research, our aim is to improve MS patients’ quality of life."

"Unveiling the impact of ECP in people with MS is a journey that started a year ago through the PHOMS clinical trial at ADSCC during which our world-class physicians, scientists and dedicated researchers worked together to pioneer cutting-edge therapies for MS patients. In the pursuit of excellence, we recognise that every discovery we make has the potential to change lives today and tomorrow,” she added.

Dr Yandy Marx Castillo Aleman, head of clinical trials and sub-investigator in PHOMS study at the centre, noted the trial has made significant strides with the participants.

“Patients are accepted following specific clinical, laboratory and imaging criteria. Within the framework of the PHOMS study, patients undergo a series of 28 ECP procedures spanning six months, followed by an additional period of six months for monitoring by the ADSCC Neurology team. The promising results we saw with our patients allow us to move forward with the PHOMS study which will be completed in another 12 months.”

Dr Ruqqia Mir, neurology consultant and sub-investigator in PHOMS study at the centre, said: “This innovative procedure used in our study, ECP, involves the treatment of a patient's autologous leukocytes with a photoactivatable drug, followed by exposure to UVA light and subsequent reinfusion into the patient."

"ECP has shown promising results in addressing a range of medical conditions, and now with our clinical trial, is offering hope to individuals living with MS. Through the PHOMS study and our commitment to transformative research, we strive to provide additional treatment options for patients facing this challenging condition.”

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