Chemotherapy refers to cell killing (cytotoxic) drugs. Although the word is better known as a description of treatments for cancer, several chemotherapy drugs have been used in multiple sclerosis.
In MS the immune system attacks the myelin sheath around the nerves of the central nervous system. Chemotherapy drugs are used to kill white blood cells, which are part of this attack. This may slow down or stop disease activity in MS.
Chemotherapy is also part of stem cell therapy. The immune system is partially or completely wiped out using chemotherapy drugs. Stem cells that were collected before treatment are then returned to start making new immune cells.
Last updated: November 2017
Last reviewed: April 2016
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