Notably present were Mathew Embry, an internationally recognised documentary filmmaker and advocate for people and families dealing with multiple sclerosis. Nicola Chapman-Haste, make up artist, YouTuber and author who lives with relapsing MS who had HSCT treatment in Mexico. Caroline Wyatt, a journalist with the BBC since the early 1990s. After decades of on-off symptoms, she was finally diagnosed with MS in 2015 and had HSCT in 2017 in Mexico. Robert Douglas-Fairhurst, writer, professor of English literature and fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford, underwent HSCT for MS in London 4 years ago.
HSCT is a chemotherapy where the patient’s immune system is all but wiped out. The patient’s own stem cells are used (this is known as an autologous transplant) to start a new immune system with no memory of MS, thus halting the progression of the disease. The StarMS trial aims to compare the efficacy and safety profile of Autologous Haematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation (aHSCT) vs ‘highly effective’ Disease Modifying Therapies (DMTs) – Ocrelizumab, Alemtuzumab, Cladribine and Ofatumumab. The study will also research the mechanism of action to help our understanding of how aHSCT works in RRMS. The trial aims to recruit 198 patients from 19 sites across the UK. All participants will be followed up over a 24 month period involving regular visits with the study team. Visits will include blood tests, neurology examinations and questionnaires.
Expert speakers included:
Professor John Snowden, Consultant Haematologist at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Director of the Blood and Marrow Transplant and Cellular Therapy Programme in Sheffield (Winner of National Institute for Health and Care Research/British Society for Haematology Researcher of the Year award).
Dr Majid Kazmi, Lead Cancer Clinician at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, holds an honorary contract at King’s College Hospital and is chair of the UK group for transplantation in auto-immune disorders such as Multiple sclerosis or Crohn’s Disease.
Professor Gavin Giovannoni, Chair of Neurology, Blizard Institute of Cell and Molecular Science, Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London and the Department of Neurology, Barts and The London NHS Trust in November 2006. In September 2008 he took over as the neuroscience and trauma centre lead in the Blizard Institute of Cell and Molecular Science.
Dr Elisa Roldan Galvan, Consultant Haematologist.
Dr Guillermo Ruiz Arguelles, General Director of Clínica Ruiz, Center of Hematology and Internal Medicine of Puebla; Director of Research Division of Laboratorios Ruiz, within Clínica Ruiz; Professor of Haematology at the Autonomous Popular University of the State of Puebla.
Dr Denis A Fedorenko, Leading Haematologist of Russia, Doctor of Medical Sciences, Professor of the Department of Hematology and Cellular Therapy.