Bone Marrow Breakthrough Gives New Hope

Safer technique could benefit MS, arthritis sufferers
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 23, 2007 2:52 AM CST
New research could someday offer hope to sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis   (Shutter Stock)
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(Newser) – Scientists investigating bone marrow transplants have made a breakthrough that could one day help millions. Currently, before transplants occur defective cells are killed with radiotherapy or chemotherapy—which causes widespread damage and can have serious side effects. But researchers have found it's possible to pinpoint and destroy blood-forming stem cells by using antibodies for "a surgical strike," according to the study in Science.

The cells are then replaced with healthy stem cells. Bone marrow transplants are so risky that they're only used to treat life-threatening illnesses. But the safer method could one day make it possible to treat auto-immune disease like multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and Type 1 diabetes by giving patients a new immune system.