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Biotechnology

A stem-cell treatment shows promise fighting multiple sclerosis

New results suggest that a technique called hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation may be effective, and safer than previously thought.

The method: Chemotherapy is used to destroy a patient’s faulty immune system. Then stem cells from the patient’s blood and bone marrow are infused to help rebuild it. The approach is being used to treat relapsing remitting MS, where patients have spells without symptoms before succumbing to the illness again.

The news:  The BBC says that 100 patients from America, the UK, Sweden, and Brazil were divided into groups given either the therapy or drugs. One stem-cell patient relapsed with MS inside a year, compared with 39 in the drug group. Members of the stem-cell group also found that their symptoms eased, whereas they got worse in those taking drugs.

Why it matters: MS affects an estimated 2.5 million people worldwide. Patient deaths previously suggested that the new $40,000 treatment was riskier than regular therapy. This study suggests that might not be the case.

Deep Dive

Biotechnology

This startup wants to copy you into an embryo for organ harvesting

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This nanoparticle could be the key to a universal covid vaccine

Ending the covid pandemic might well require a vaccine that protects against any new strains. Researchers may have found a strategy that will work.

How do strong muscles keep your brain healthy?

There’s a robust molecular language being spoken between your muscles and your brain.

The quest to show that biological sex matters in the immune system

A handful of immunologists are pushing the field to take attributes such as sex chromosomes, sex hormones, and reproductive tissues into account.

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Illustration by Rose Wong

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