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.
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
News and Information
- Mending the Mind (CIRM)
- Could stem cells reverse MS? (UC Irvine)
- CIRMResearch blog entries on multiple sclerosis
- NIH: Multiple Sclerosis Information
- Find a clinical trial near you: NIH Clinical Trials database
- National Multiple Sclerosis Society
- Multiple Sclerosis Foundation
- Multiple Sclerosis Association of America
- Guthy Jackson Charitable Foundation
- Stem Cell Netword multiple sclerosis page
- Family Caregiver Alliance
- National Family Caregivers Association