More MS news articles for June 2001

New Therapy Fights Autoimmune Disorders

Monday June 25 11:39 AM EDT

Bone marrow transplants are now being used to treat certain autoimmune diseases.

One such disease that is being treated with bone marrow transplants is scleroderma. In its advanced stages, scleroderma turns the skin stiff and leathery, making movement impossible.

Doctors typically treat the disorder by bombarding a patient's body with toxic drugs to destroy the immune system and force it to rebuild itself.

But the procedure also destroys bone marrow, so in the new method, doctors remove the marrow to keep it safe.

"What we do is we take out some of the bone marrow, freeze it, destroy the immune system, destroy the bone marrow that's left behind in the patient, and then put back the cells we had previously frozen, so that it rebuilds the bone marrow," oncologist Ashwin Kashyap says.

Doctors say that the transplant technique is not right for all autoimmune disease patients, but they say that it holds real promise for the future.

Around the world, some 500 people with autoimmune diseases have received bone marrow transplants, including patients with scleroderma, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.

You can get more information about bone marrow transplants and autoimmune diseases at