Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Multiple Sclerosis Health Center

Font Size

Stem Cell Transplants May Treat Aggressive MS

Study Shows Improvements in MS Patients Who Replace Bone Marrow With Stem Cells

Following Stem Cell Transplants in MS continued...

“When we’re transplanting patients with autoimmune diseases and especially for something like progressive MS, secondary or primary progressive MS, or even relapsing-remitting MS, we’re really interested in what’s happening over the longer term,” Nash says.

Because patients with MS sometimes go through periods where their disease appears to be dormant before it becomes active again, it can be difficult for researchers to tell if an improvement would have happened naturally or if it is the result of treatment, he explains.

“The progression-free survivals at three, four, and five years in this group were 80%. So they were very high, and people were very hopeful,” Nash says.

Based on this report, however, it now appears that at least some of that early benefit may not have been related to treatment, he says.

But he says the study has helped to better define which patients may respond to stem cells.

Best Candidates for Stem Cell Transplants

Stem cells have long been used to treat cancer patients, but they are still considered experimental in autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis.

But many believe they offer great hope.

“It’s the only therapy to date that has been shown to reverse neurologic deficits,” says Richard K. Burt, MD, chief of the division of medicine-immunotherapy for autoimmune diseases at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. “But you have to get the right group of patients.”

In Burt’s study, which was published in The Lancet in 2009, 17 out of 21 patients with relapsing-remitting MS improved after stem cell transplants, and none had gotten worse after an average of three years.

As a follow-up to that study, Burt and collaborators in Brazil and Sweden are recruiting patients for a study comparing stem cell transplants to Tysabri, a biologic drug, for the treatment of multiple sclerosis. He is not involved in the current research.

“You have to do it earlier in the disease, that’s where the excitement is, and that’s why we’re doing the randomized trial,” Burt says.

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
worried woman
neural fiber
white blood cells
sunlight in hands
marijuana plant
muscle spasm