Multiple Sclerosis Fact Sheet

Multiple Sclerosis Fact Sheet

CIRM funds many research projects aimed to better understand how embyonic stem cells mature into different types of neurons. This work could lead to new therapies for a range of nervous system diseases, including multiple sclerosis. In addition, CIRM funds projects specifically focused on understanding and treating MS.

If you want to learn more about CIRM funding decisions or make a comment directly to our board, join us at a public meeting. You can find agendas for upcoming public meetings on our meetings page.

Learn more about stem cell research:
Stem Cell Basics Primer | Stem Cell Videos | What We Fund

Find clinical trials:
CIRM does not track stem cell clinical trials. If you or a family member is interested in participating in a clinical trial, please see the national trial database to find a trial near you: clinicaltrials.gov

The role of stem cell research in multiple sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis occurs when the body’s own immune system attacks the cells that surround and protect neurons. This protective covering is called myelin. As people lose myelin surrounding their nerves they start feeling weak or having trouble walking. Over time the disease progresses and people may end up with more severe symptoms included paralysis. About 400,000 people are living with MS in the U.S.

Some groups have had success treating MS using bone marrow transplants. In this approach, powerful chemotherapy agents eliminate a person’s bone marrow cells, which include the blood-forming stem cells that produce the entire blood system including immune cells. The doctors then transplant in fresh bone marrow cells that repopulate the person’s blood system with immune cells that won’t attack the myelin.

Although some people have been successful with this approach, the bone marrow transplant itself is extremely risky.

CIRM funded researchers are trying to mature stem cells into a type of cell that might be able to replace the missing myelin. The idea is that these could be transplanted into a person with multiple sclerosis, and the cells would repair damage caused by the disease.

Other groups are trying to learn more about how the body’s natural process should be repairing the damage. Their goal is to find drugs that could stimulate the body’s own stem cells to replace the damaged myelin.

CIRM Grants Targeting Multiple Sclerosis

CIRM Multiple Sclerosis Videos

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