Doctors at Abu Dhabi Stem Cells Centre (ADSCC), part of PureHealth Group, have performed the region’s first successful bone marrow transplant on a patient suffering from Multiple Sclerosis (MS).

The significant achievement in bone marrow transplantation, performed under the Abu Dhabi Bone Marrow Transplant (AD-BMT) programme, demonstrates a major advance in cell therapy and regenerative medicine capabilities to treat a range of diseases, including cancer and immune disorders.

Doctors at ADSCC performed the region’s first autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (AHSCT) on a patient with MS earlier this month and the patient has since reported an improvement in her overall condition. The treatment, developed by the ADSCC, aims to ‘reset’ a person’s immune system and can be used for those with relapsing forms of MS.

Supporting Covid-19 patients

The transplant success follows ADSCC’s ground-breaking work supporting Covid-19 patients during the pandemic, for which the centre was commended by Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO), for its cutting-edge Covid-19 treatments. These included UAECell19, which ADSCC launched in 2020 and was used to treat thousands of Covid-19 patients, helping to regenerate lung capacity through stem cell therapy.

Established in 2020, ADSCC’s Abu Dhabi Bone Marrow Transplant (AD-BMT) programme was designed as a comprehensive programme to provide autologous and allogeneic HSCT for adults and children as well as implementing different forms of cell therapies such as adoptive cell transfer.

The AD-BMT programme team at ADSCC, in collaboration with the neurology team at the centre, carried out the treatment on the MS patient, led by Dr Fatima Al Kaabi, AD-BMT Programme Director.

Scaling world-class capabilities

Commenting on the landmark treatment, Dr Al Kaabi said: “At ADSCC, we are committed to ensuring the AD-BMT programme meets the highest standards of quality and patient satisfaction at all steps of the process, including treatment, aftercare, and follow-up. With this new treatment, we have scaled our world-class capabilities, which represents hope and aims to improve the quality of life for everyone.”

Dr Yendry Ventura, CEO of ADSCC, said: “We are extremely proud of our achievement at the Abu Dhabi Stem Cells Centre to become the first centre in the region to perform the BMT on a MS patient. It fills us with great pride to make such a life-saving treatment here in Abu Dhabi. We are thankful to the vision of the UAE’s wise leadership and the support of PureHealth management in making this possible.”

According to Shaista Asif, Group Chief Operating Officer of PureHealth Group: “The launch of the revolutionary bone marrow transplantation on a MS patient right here in the UAE could not have come at a more opportune time, as we mark five decades of progress across all fields in the UAE. Under the wise and visionary leadership of the UAE, PureHealth and its subsidiaries are committed to raising the benchmarks in healthcare excellence to drive efficiencies across the healthcare value chain. This is a major step forward in improving the average health spans in the country in line with our commitment to science of longevity.”

Standard of care

The AHSCT procedure carried out by ADSCC is a ‘standard of care’ and not just a ‘clinical option’ under the updated European Group for Blood & Marrow Transplantation (EBMT) and American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation (ASBMT) guidelines from 2019, which reviewed the clinical evidence of AHSCT on MS patients.

It is a recognised and effective treatment for highly active Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis (RRMS), which has failed at least one disease modifying treatment. The EBMT fosters excellence in science to further improve the outcomes of Stem Cell Transplantation while the ASBMT is dedicated to advancing the science and clinical care for patients requiring blood and marrow transplants.

ADSCC continues to provide advanced treatment like extracorporeal photopheresis treatment in the UAE and is the only centre with two open clinical trials under PureHealth Group. To date, 13 cancer patients and one MS patient have been treated by ADSCC under the AD-BMT programme.