ad info
 Diet & Fitness

 Headline News brief
 news quiz
 daily almanac

 video archive
 multimedia showcase
 more services

Subscribe to one of our news e-mail lists.
Enter your address:
Get a free e-mail account

 message boards

CNN Websites
 En Español
 Em Português


Networks image
 more networks

 ad info


  health > story pageAIDSAlternative MedicineCancerDiet & FitnessHeartMenSeniorsWomen

Plasma replacement helps some MS patients, study finds

CNN's Eileen O'Connor reports on a new treatment for Multiple Sclerosis patients.
Windows Media 28K 80K
  • description
  • risk
  • symptoms
  • treatment
  • prevention
    Source: WebMD

    September 21, 1999
    Web posted at: 8:50 a.m. EDT (1250 GMT)

    (CNN) -- A treatment involving replacement of blood plasma in acute multiple sclerosis patients caused improvement approximately 40 percent of the time, according to a Mayo Clinic study released Friday.

    When a patient has MS, the body attacks its own central nervous system and can cause paralysis and speech loss. Those who suffer acute cases are not helped by the standard treatment of anti-inflammatory steroids.

    The Mayo study participants suffered from disabling attacks of the disease and did not respond to standard treatments. Eight out of 19 patients, or 42 percent, who underwent plasma exchange as part of the study showed dramatic improvement in their motor skills.

    The procedure has been used to treat other illnesses, and in the Mayo study showed "moderate to marked improvement" in the neurological condition of MS patients when it was repeated every two days for 14 days.

    "We are very excited about the success of plasma exchange, which offers another option for multiple sclerosis patients with devastating attacks who have been unresponsive to all other forms of therapy," neurologist and study leader Dr. Brian Weinshenker said.

    In plasma exchange, a patient's blood is removed, and the blood cells are separated from the fluid plasma. The blood cells are then combined with new plasma and returned to the patient.

    Researchers are not sure why the treatment is effective but speculate that plasma replacement helps slow the attack on the nervous system by antibodies contained in the plasma before replacement.

    Doctors caution that this treatment is a last resort and is really only for a small group of acute MS sufferers who do not respond to steroids, about 1 percent, or 2,500, of the 250,000 MS sufferers in the United States.

    "We really don't know how useful this procedure would be and how it would compare with other procedures being developed beyond that one population," said Dr. Stephen Reingold of the National MS Society.

    Of the original eight patients who responded well to the plasma exchange, four experienced recurrent attacks during six months of follow-up.

    Scientists hope this study will open new lines of research into the cause of MS.

    "It provides great hope that if we can figure out exactly what it is that is happening in these patients, we remove their plasma and these patients have significant neurological improvement, the same can be applied for other MS patients," Weinshenker said.

    The Mayo study was presented Friday at a conference on MS in Basel, Switzerland. It will be published in the journal Annals of Neurology in December.

    Medical Correspondent Eileen O'Connor and Reuters contributed to this report.

    Study: Destructiveness of MS cuts nerves in two
    January 28, 1998
    Experimental treatment gives new hope to MS patients
    November 17, 1997

    The National Multiple Sclerosis Society
    Mayo Clinic
    Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
    External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.

    China SARS numbers pass 5,000
    Report: Form of HIV in humans by 1940
    Fewer infections for back-sleeping babies
    Pneumonia vaccine may help heart, too
    Enter keyword(s)   go    help

    Back to the top   © 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.
    Terms under which this service is provided to you.
    Read our privacy guidelines.