By Stephanie Stahl


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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — An experimental treatment for multiple sclerosis is showing promise in stopping symptoms of the disease. Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease where the body attacks itself, causing a wide range of symptoms, including vision problems, fatigue and weakness.

Amanda Loy was diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS, the form that comes and goes in sporadic episodes. It brings her life to a sudden halt.

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“Both of my arms went numb and I wasn’t really able to use them well,” said Loy.

She tried traditional medications, but the symptoms just got worse.

“I started having bladder problems and my balance was really bad, requiring the cane more often,” said Loy.

Loy decided to participate in a clinical trial where a patient’s stem cells are collected and stored. During a two-week stay in the hospital, high-dose chemotherapy is given to wipe out the immune system. Then, the stem cells are infused back into the patient to reboot the body’s immune system.

“Transplants ended up being markedly superior in all the perimeters we were looking at,” said Dr. Richard Burt, chief of the Division of Immunotherapy at Northwestern Medicine.

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Loy is now off MS medications, and is even running in winter conditions, feeling better than ever.

The transplant might not be a permanent fix, and there are serious risks, like infertility, infection and even death.

Stephanie Stahl