The National MS Society's mission is to cure MS while empowering people affected by MS to live their best lives. We are convening scientific, medical and public health leaders to contribute to the most promising pathways to cures
and to cultivate global collaboration in pursuit of cures.
Stem cells, including adult stem cells that act as “spare parts” inside the body, are a promising path of research that have potential for stopping MS and restoring function.
Repairing myelin, the coating that surrounds and protects axons (nerve wires) and which is damaged by MS, may represent the best strategy for protecting axons from injury and improving function for people with MS. Thanks in part to the National MS Society's pioneering funding and leadership, potential cell therapies and myelin repair strategies are now in clinical trials.
There is exciting progress being made through innovative research related to the potential of many types of stem cells both for slowing MS disease activity and for repairing damage to the nervous system. In addition to cell therapy, finding ways to stimulate the body’s own stem cells inside the brain is another approach being actively investigated. Today the idea of nervous system repair holds significant promise as a strategy to restore the function that MS has taken from people; and reducing or stopping MS progression.
We are at a pivotal moment in time where breakthrough solutions can change the world for everyone with MS. Among the approaches being taken are:
- The availability for some individuals to receive bone marrow transplantation - called aHSCT - to “reboot” the immune system to slow or halt MS activity.
- Research to slow disease activity and repair nervous system damage directly with stem cells that may replace the cells that make myelin.
- Research and clinical trials to stimulate the natural capacity of the brain to repair itself.
This remarkable progress is due in large part to the National MS Society’s comprehensive efforts and multi-million dollar research investments. With the urgent need for more effective treatments for MS, particularly for those with more progressive forms of the disease, we believe that the potential of all types of cell therapies and other ways to help restore function must be explored.
The Society is supporting research projects exploring various types of stem cells, including cells derived from bone marrow, fat and skin. In addition, a substantial portion of the Society’s research portfolio focuses on different approaches to protecting and repairing the nervous system.