Skip to content

    Multiple Sclerosis Health Center

    Select An Article

    Tysabri Treatment for Multiple Sclerosis

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Natalizumab (Tysabri) is a treatment for people with relapsing forms of MS. It makes flares happen less often and keeps physical disabilities from getting worse quickly.

    Tysabri works in a different way from other multiple sclerosis drugs. It keeps the white blood cells of the immune system from entering the brain and spinal cord, which doctors think plays an important role in the damaging effects of MS.

    Recommended Related to Multiple Sclerosis

    Plasma Exchange (Plasmapheresis) for MS

    Plasma exchange, also known as plasmapheresis, is a way to "clean" your blood. It works sort of like kidney dialysis. During the treatment, plasma -- the liquid part of your blood -- gets replaced with plasma from a donor or with a plasma substitute. People with some forms of multiple sclerosis use plasma exchange to manage sudden, severe attacks, sometimes called relapses or flare-ups. Their plasma could have certain proteins that are attacking their own body. When you take out the plasma, you...

    Read the Plasma Exchange (Plasmapheresis) for MS article > >

    How Do I Take It?

    You’ll go to your doctor’s office to get the drug through a vein. That will take about an hour every 4 weeks.

    What Are the Side Effects?

    The most common ones are:

    It’s possible for some people to have an allergic reaction to Tysabri. Symptoms include hives, itching, breathing problems, chest pain, nausea, flushing, dizziness, and rash. You’ll need to stay at your doctor’s office for about an hour after you get the drug to make sure the reaction doesn’t happen.

    After the FDA first approved Tysabri, the drug's manufacturer took it off the market due to reports of a rare but serious brain infection called PML (progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy). The company introduced a program that requires everyone taking the medicine to register and to follow up every so often in order to find any possible cases of PML as soon as possible. With these safety programs in place, the drug went back on the market.

    Your risk for PML goes up with the number of doses you take. It’s also higher for people who’ve taken drugs that turn down their immune systems before they use Tysabri. Because of this risk, doctors usually recommend Tysabri only for people who’ve tried other MS treatments that haven’t worked.

    Besides PML and allergic reactions, other serious side effects include liver damage and serious infections.

    Talk with your doctor about these side effects and whether Tysabri would be a good option for you. Together you can weigh the risks and benefits and decide if you should take the drug.

    WebMD Medical Reference

    Reviewed by Richard Senelick, MD on November 26, 2015
    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    nerve damage
    Learn how this disease affects the nervous system.
    woman applying lotion
    Ideas on how to boost your mood and self-esteem.
     
    woman pondering
    Get personalized treatment options.
    man with hand over eye
    Be on the lookout for these symptoms.
     
    brain scan
    ARTICLE
    worried woman
    ARTICLE
     
    neural fiber
    ARTICLE
    white blood cells
    VIDEO
     
    sunlight in hands
    ARTICLE
    marijuana plant
    ARTICLE
     
    muscle spasm
    ARTICLE
    Neuron
    ARTICLE