Multiple Sclerosis Fact Sheet

CIRM funds many projects seeking to better understand multiple sclerosis and to translate those discoveries into new therapies.


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 have been 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 have been 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

Researcher NameInstitutionGrant TitleGrant TypeAward Amount
Luke L LairsonScripps Research InstituteImproving the efficacy and tolerability of clinically validated remyelination-inducing molecules using developable combinations of approved drugsQuest – Discovery Stage Research Projects$1,554,126
Dr. Everett H. MeyerStanford UniversityCellular Immune Tolerance SymposiumConference II$31,225
Craig M. WalshUniversity of California, IrvineMultiple Sclerosis therapy: Human Pluripotent Stem Cell-Derived Neural Progenitor CellsEarly Translational III$4,535,005
Peter G. SchultzScripps Research InstituteTargeting Stem Cells to Enhance Remyelination in the Treatment of Multiple SclerosisEarly Translational III$2,559,333
Dr. Samuel PleasureUniversity of California, San FranciscoHuman stem cell derived oligodendrocytes for treatment of stroke and MSComprehensive Grant$2,459,235
Thomas Edward LaneUniversity of California, IrvineHuman Embryonic Stem Cells and Remyelination in a Viral Model of DemyelinationSEED Grant$368,081

CIRM Multiple Sclerosis Videos

Jeanne Loring, Scripps – CIRM Stem Cell #SciencePitch: Multiple Sclerosis

Advancing Toward Multiple Sclerosis Therapies Using Stem Cells

Living with Multiple Sclerosis: Hope for Stem Cell Therapies | Nan Luke

News and Information


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Stem Cell FAQ | Stem Cell Videos | What We Fund