Canadian Doctors Experimenting with New Multiple Sclerosis Treatment

A new experimental treatment for multiple sclerosis may be able to beat back signs of the disease. Doctors in Canada say the radical treatment is an attempt to restart a patient's damaged immune system, with a brand new immune system; one that won't attack the nerve fibers and won't cause the weakness and disability that are hallmarks of multiple sclerosis.

The doctors are using ultra high doses of chemotherapy to change the body's immune system. It's the same kind of chemo that's used on people with some forms of leukemia.

Dr. Mark Freedman of Ottawa Hospital says the patient is injected with stem cells taken from their bone marrow and then the cells hopefully create a healthy immune system. "In four cases, we've had four successful grafts with no evidence of any active disease."

But is this treatment a cure? Doctors don't know.  And It could take three to five years before there's a clear answer. Patients will undergo neurological tests, blood tests each month.. So, if the multiple sclerosis does return, they can capture its first advances in the immune system.

Researchers in the U.S. and Europe have tried this approach on severely disabled patients. While it stopped signs of the disease, it didn't completely slow the rate of disability.