A new study has found that patients with systemic sclerosis would benefit from haematopoietic stem cell transplantation in early treatment.
Data from the ASTIS (Autologous Stem Cell Transplantation International Scleroderma) trial suggests that haematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) results in better long term survival than conventional treatment for patients with poor prognosis early diffuse cutaneous systemic sclerosis.
The trial consisted of over 150 patients who were tested between 2001 and 2009, and found that significantly more deaths have occurred in the conventional treatment group. In the HSCT group, half of the deaths occurred early and were deemed to be treatment-related, as opposed to the conventional treatment group, where none of the deaths were deemed to be treatment-related; but more deaths occurred later and most were related to progressive disease.
Professor Jaap van Laar from Newcastle University, Professor Dominique Farge from Paris 7 University and Professor Alan Tyndall from Basel University said in their report: "Systemic sclerosis is a debilitating disease that can lead to heart, lung or kidney failure and premature death, especially in patients who have the diffuse cutaneous form of the condition, where skin thickening is more generalised and involvement of vital organs more common. The ASTIS study shows that such patients may benefit from early intensive immunosuppressive treatment.
"These initial results are very encouraging and will help identify patients who benefit from stem cell transplantation."