HSCT Frequently asked questions

General Questions

What is HSCT?


Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant (HSCT) is a chemotherapy based treatment in which a patient’s own stem cells are collected prior to the administration of chemotherapy. After the chemotherapy has eliminated the blood cells that carry the message of the autoimmune disease, the stem cells are returned to the patient’s blood stream to generate a new immune system.




What does HSCT treat?


Multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, ststemic lupus, stiff person syndrome, Type 1 diabetes, myathenia gravis, sjogen’s disease, polymyositis, and more.




What are the results?


98% of patients show NO evidence of disease progression after 1 year 93% after 2 years 90% after 3 years 78% after 4 and 5 years *(2019). Burt RK, Balabanov R, Burman J, et al. Effect of Nonmyeloablative Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation vs Continued Disease Modifying Therapy on Disease Progression in Patients With Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA. 2019;321(2):165–174. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.18743




Where is HSCT performed?


There are locations all over the world. Our locations map provides information for each site. Click here for the locations Map




How do I apply?


Each location has its own application criteria. Refer to each location listed on our locations map for the contact information. All applicants are required to furnish their medical records to be considered for treatment.




How much does it cost?


Depending on the location, the cost varies dramatically. Locations such as Mexico and Russia are approximately $60,000 cash. Chicago is approximately $175,000 cash or can be approved by your insurance to cover some costs.




Will my doctor support me?


Some doctors know about HSCT, though chances are that your physician is not very aware of HSCT. If they are aware, they might be misinformed or may not have reviewed the latest research published in JAMA as recently as January 2019. Offering your doctor a chance to review the articles available on our website that have been published in peer-reviewed medical journals will give them opportunity to develop an informed opinion. If they are open to learning more, you could even suggest they request a peer-to-peer conversation with any of the doctors that perform HSCT so that they can find answers to specific questions. Hopefully after learning more your doctor will support you if you choose to pursue HSCT.




How long had HSCT been around?


Each location has been treating patients for varies amounts of time, but HSCT was first used to treat MS patients approximately 20 years ago.




How long does it take?


The entire process take approximately 2 months, start to finish.




How long will it take me to recover?


While every patient is different, it could take up to a year for full recovery. Some patients are able to return to their normal lives within 6 months of treatment. Listen to your body and your doctor.




Can my family come with me?


In most locations, family members are an important part of the support for your HSCT experience - whether they stay with you on site or in a nearby location so they can easily visit. In some locations, bringing along a caregiver is required, though in other locations visitors are highly restricted during the isolation phase. Protocols for HSCT are unique to each clinic, so it is best for you to confirm with your clinic of choice before making travel plans.




Will insurance pay for HSCT?


Several insurance companies (including Medicare, Humana, Anthem Blue Cross, and United Healthcare) have covered all aspects of HSCT including travel expenses, lodging, and per diem. Depending on your policy and coverage, some insurance companies do cover a majority of expenses but refuse to pay for the aspects deemed as “experimental” (e.g. harvest, storage and return of your hematopoietic stem cells).




Do I need a caretaker?


Certain locations require a caregiver, like Mexico, while others do not, like Chicago.




What is the basic difference between myelo & non myelo treatment?


Myeloablative protocol is intended to completely obliterate the immune cells that carry the negative messaging of autoimmune disease. Without the return of your stem cells after the chemotherapy regimen, your immune system would not regenerate; a person cannot live without an immune system. Most clinics in the US are currently running the myeloablative BEAM protocol as part of the BEAT-MS clinical trial (2019-2025). The myeloablative protocol is currently offered in Canada and other clinics worldwide. Non-myeloablative protocol is intended to knock out the majority of your immune cells, though leave a small portion in order to ensure that when your stem cells are returned, your immune system can regenerate; although this process can take time, the stem cells help to reboot an immune system free of the negative messaging of autoimmune disease. The non-myeloablative protocol was offered at Northwestern University in Chicago, IL USA and is currently offered in Mexico, Russia, Sweden and the United Kingdom.





Chicago


Mexico


Rusisia


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