MYELOABLATIVE VERSUS  NON-MYELOABLATIVE HSCTAutologous Haematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant


People considering treatment will find it confusing that there are in fact two different types of HSCT available. Understanding what differentiates Myleoablative from Non-Myleoablative HSCT is helpful. It will help you to decide which type of HSCT is appropriate for your specific needs, as well as where to go for treatment.  On the whole most facilities offering this treatment will opt for one type or the other. There are currently no facilities that offer both kinds of HSCT.




MYLEOABLATIVE and NON-MYELOABLATIVE HSCT are both equally respected forms of treatment. Both types ablate (destroy) the lymphocytes in the body that are self-intolerant. These are responsible for the underlying nerve damage/ destruction. Lymphocytes are the white blood cells that in normal circumstances destroy bacteria and other harmful substances in the blood. In terms of MS these usually helpful cells become ‘rogue’. They become intent on attacking the Myelin sheath that surrounds and protect our nerves. Both types of HSCT remove of these errant blood cells. Once removed the process of HSCT replaces them with ‘Naive’ ones that are behave correctly!




Myeloablative HSCT is the more stringent type of treatment. This type of HSCT is intended to completely destroy the body’s (auto reactive) lymphocytes.  It also destroys the bone marrow.  Myleoablative HSCT most commonly incorporates a BEAM (Carmustine, Cytarabine, Etoposide, Melphalan) chemotherapy protocol. The chemotherapy is administered over a period of six days.  ATG is often added for a couple of days as a supplementary rather than essential lymphoablation. Many HSCT doctors consider Myleoablative to be the most ‘reliable’ form of HSCT. The protocol is destroys the lymphocytes more completely and ultimately reduces the chance of any of the ‘baddies” surviving!




The Non-Myleoablative protocol varies according to the doctor performing it.  Generally speaking the procedure is less harsh on the body.   During the treatment the Lymphocytes are not entirely eliminated. Instead they are “diminished” to a threshold level below which autoimmune-mediated damage occurs. With this form of HSCT the bone marrow is not completely wiped out making the treatment less dangerous. The patient is allowed to recover more easily.


This  “gentler” chemotherapy has a lower mortality rate.  However the trade off is that compared with the Myeloablative protocol there remains a proportion of patients (20-25%) that fail. This means is that the treatment does not succeed in destroying all of the lymphocytes necessary to halt the disease. If this happens “top-ups” of cyclophosphamide infusions (more chemo), are administered post-transplantation. Re-treatments often address this issue.  Using “top-ups” is very common with many facilities.  It will cause an MS patient that has not responded favorably back into remission.



Thoughts among Hematologist’s until recently have been that if you have a progressive form of MS (PPMS or SPMS) Myleoablative HSCT has been the most effective form of treatment.

The general trend however, with treatment today is a movement towards non-myleoablative as a more favored treatment around the world.  It is less harsh on the body and recovery is much faster. Ironically, there are currently no places that offer Myleoablative HSCT to treat progressive cases of MS. The facilities that use Myleoblative HSCT are all signed up to the EBMT and treat only Relapse Remitting forms of MS.


In the past few years many new facilities performing HSCT have opened up. These are located all over the world. Each one performs their own specific form of HSCT.  Each Hematologist has a unique preferred protocol. Non-Myleoablative HSCT has emerged as the most popular form of HSCT.  It is exciting to see very successful results with Non-Myleoablative HSCT for PPMS and other progressive cases. The Maximov Facility in Russia regularly treats progressive cases. The protocol is updated regularly. It is constantly being tweaked and improved. In Russia specifically Dr. Fedorenko prides himself on customizing the treatment to suit each new patient.  The fact that Non-Myleoablative HSCT is am easier procedure to endure, coupled with faster treatment, and recovery time, continue to popularize this option. It also enables people who are older or perhaps less robust to get treatment and come through it more easily.


7 Replies to “

  1. I have been researching HSCT for my PPMS. I’m 45 yrs, had it since 1995. Done Rebif, Copaxone, then Mitozantrone. it was good for about 10 yrs, now it has turned PPMS within the year.
    I’m ready for this. Let’s DO THIS!

    1. Hi Robyn it must be SPMS as PPMS is diagnosed at the outset. If it was originally RRMS then it would have progressed to SPMS. I hope you have applied to a facility to get treatment. They are listed on the facilities list. Good luck! 🙂

  2. diagnosed in 1985 as RLRM MS. am now on tecidera since first made available. hoping to repair loss and stop new activity, my May 2014 mri showed I had no new lesions since prior year, Will stem cel therapy for MS repair existing loss and stop further activity? what are my next steps recommended. I have been treated by dr.dina jacobs at HUP. She tells me she has patients
    who have done stem cel but HUP does not offer this therapy.

    1. Hi Debra, It is hard to say whether HSCT would help you when you have had MS for an extended period of time. It works best for those who were diagnosed within 5 years…..10 is an upper estimation, although people who have had it for 15 years have experienced stopping progression. The longer you have had it the less likely you are to benefit from regaining lost motor skills. However if your intention is to stop progression alone. Good luck!

  3. Hello i still have no diagnostic of ms but i have some symptoms should i wait until get clinical diagnostic?
    To get hsct

    Thanks Luis

    1. Hi Luis, all facilities require a positive diagnosis of HSCT along with an MRI report to confirm, so yes you would have to have this before you can apply anywhere. Good luck.

  4. Hello, I was initially diagnosed with RRMS 12-12-2002 and within the last 2 years diagnosed with SPMS. Does HSCT treatment have history of stopping MS since I have had thiyears, diagnosed with SPMS. Does HSCT treatment have history of working after having MS for 14 years ?

    Thank you

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