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MS Infusion: Guide to Multiple Sclerosis Treatments

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MS Infusion: Guide to Multiple Sclerosis Treatments

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Multiple Sclerosis (MS), a complex neurological condition, necessitates advanced treatments like MS infusion therapy. This article provides a detailed exploration of this crucial approach in managing MS.

Key Takeaways:

  • MS infusion therapy plays a pivotal role in managing Multiple Sclerosis.
  • It involves the use of various medications like Ocrevus, Tysabri, and Lemtrada.
  • Understanding the mechanism, benefits, and side effects of these treatments is essential for patients and caregivers.
  • New infusions such as using mesenchymal stem cells has shown promise

What is Multiple Sclerosis?

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic autoimmune disorder affecting the central nervous system. It's characterized by the immune system attacking the protective sheath (myelin) that covers nerve fibers, causing communication issues between the brain and the rest of the body.

MS symptoms can vary widely but often include fatigue, mobility issues, and cognitive changes. The disease can be categorized into several types: relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS), primary progressive MS (PPMS), secondary progressive MS (SPMS), and progressive relapsing MS (PRMS).

How Does Infusion Therapy Work?

MS infusion therapy, an intravenous treatment, is a cornerstone in the management of various types of MS. It involves administering medications directly into the bloodstream, allowing for quicker absorption and response.

This form of therapy is particularly beneficial for disease-modifying treatments (DMTs), which are designed to reduce the frequency and severity of MS relapses and slow disease progression.

Infusion Therapy Medication for Multiple Sclerosis

The landscape of MS infusion therapy includes several key medications:

  • Ocrevus (Ocrelizumab): Primarily used for treating PPMS and RRMS.
  • Tysabri (Natalizumab): Effective for reducing relapses in RRMS.
  • Lemtrada (Alemtuzumab): Known for its efficacy in treating RRMS.
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells: New treatment has shown potential to slow progression and improve symptoms associated with  PPMS and RRMS

Each of these medications has a unique mechanism of action, targeting different aspects of the immune system to mitigate the effects of MS.

MedicationType of MS TreatedMechanism of Action
Ocrevus (Ocrelizumab)PPMS, RRMSTargets CD20-positive B cells
Tysabri (Natalizumab)RRMSPrevents immune cells from crossing the blood-brain barrier
Lemtrada (Alemtuzumab)RRMSTargets CD52 on lymphocytes

Side Effects of Infusion Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

While infusion therapies like Ocrevus, Tysabri, and Lemtrada are pivotal in MS management, they come with potential side effects. Common ones include infusion reactions, infections, and, in rare cases, more severe complications. Patients undergoing infusion therapy should be closely monitored by healthcare providers for any adverse effects.

What should patients expect during an MS infusion treatment?

The process typically involves a pre-infusion assessment, the infusion itself, which can last several hours, and a post-infusion monitoring period. Facilities specializing in infusion therapy provide a comfortable setting for this procedure, ensuring patient safety and comfort.

Infusion Treatment Drugs

In addition to Ocrevus, Tysabri, and Lemtrada, other drugs used in MS infusion therapy include:

  • Mitoxantrone: An immunosuppressive agent used in some forms of progressive MS.
  • Rituximab: Though not FDA-approved for MS, it's sometimes used off-label for its immunomodulatory effects.

These medications, part of a broader category of disease-modifying therapies, offer hope and improvement in quality of life for many MS patients.

Mesenchymal Stem Cell Infusion for Multiple Sclerosis

The potential use of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) in treating Multiple Sclerosis (MS) represents a promising frontier in medical science.

MSCs, known for their ability to differentiate into various cell types and modulate immune responses, offer a novel approach to MS therapy.

Unlike conventional treatments that mainly focus on suppressing the immune system, MSC infusion aims to repair and regenerate damaged neural tissues, potentially addressing the root cause of MS.


Researchers are exploring how MSCs can promote the regeneration of myelin sheath and modulate the immune system to prevent further damage to nerve cells. Early clinical trials have shown encouraging results, indicating that MSC infusion may reduce inflammation, lessen the severity of symptoms, and potentially slow down the progression of MS.

However, more extensive research and clinical trials are necessary to fully understand the efficacy and safety of MSC therapy in MS patients.

This innovative approach could redefine MS treatment, shifting the focus from symptom management to long-term disease modification and neural repair. As research progresses, MSC infusion may become a key component in the future of MS treatment strategies.


Ocrelizumab, marketed under the brand name Ocrevus, is a significant development in the treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS). It is a humanized anti-CD20 antibody that targets B cells, which play a central role in the pathogenesis of MS.

B cells are involved in the activation of pro-inflammatory T cells, secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines, and production of autoantibodies directed against myelin, a substance that insulates nerve fibers and is damaged in MS.

Efficacy in Relapsing-Remitting MS

Research has shown that Ocrelizumab has a pronounced effect on radiological and relapse-related outcomes in patients with relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS). In two phase III trials (OPERA I and II), Ocrelizumab demonstrated decreased annualized relapse rates and fewer numbers of gadolinium-enhanced lesions on MRI scans compared to interferon beta-1a, a commonly used treatment for MS.

Breakthrough for Primary Progressive MS

Notably, Ocrelizumab is the first drug to lower rates of clinical and MRI-evidenced progression in patients with primary progressive MS (PPMS). In the phase III trial (ORATORIO), the percentage of patients with 12-week confirmed disability progression was significantly lower in the active treatment group than in patients receiving placebo.

Socioeconomic Benefits

In addition to its clinical benefits, Ocrelizumab also offers socioeconomic benefits. It is the only disease-modifying therapy (DMT) approved by Health Canada for the treatment of PPMS and offers substantial societal cost savings compared with best supportive care in patients with PPMS. More details on this can be found in this study.

Who Can Take Ocrelizumab (Ocrevus)?

Ocrelizumab is approved for patients with PPMS and RRMS. It's particularly effective in reducing relapse rates in RRMS and slowing disability progression in PPMS. However, its use requires careful patient selection due to potential risks and contraindications, which should be thoroughly discussed with a healthcare provider.

How Well Does Ocrelizumab (Ocrevus) Work?

Clinical trials have shown Ocrelizumab to be effective in both RRMS and PPMS. In RRMS, it has demonstrated a significant reduction in relapse rates and MRI lesions. In PPMS, it's been shown to slow the progression of disability, a notable achievement as treatment options for PPMS are limited.

What Are the Side Effects of Ocrelizumab (Ocrevus)?

The side effects of Ocrelizumab can include infusion reactions, increased risk of infections, and, in rare cases, more severe complications. Patients should undergo regular monitoring, including blood tests and MRI scans, to ensure the drug's safety and effectiveness in their treatment regimen.

Ocrelizumab (Ocrevus) and Pregnancy, Breastfeeding, and Contraception

Patients planning to conceive, currently pregnant, or breastfeeding should discuss the implications of Ocrelizumab with their doctor. The drug's effects on pregnancy and breastfeeding are not fully understood, making contraception and careful planning essential components of treatment for women of childbearing age.

Side Effects of the Infusion Process and Drugs

Besides medication-specific side effects, the infusion process itself can cause reactions. These include allergic reactions, fever, chills, and fatigue. Pre-medications and close monitoring during the infusion can help manage these effects.

Talk with Your Doctor

It's crucial for patients considering MS infusion therapy to have an in-depth discussion with their healthcare provider. This conversation should cover the potential benefits, risks, and what to expect during and after the treatment process.

Feel Supported Along Your Journey

Living with MS and undergoing infusion therapy can be challenging. Patients should seek support from healthcare teams, support groups, and MS organizations. These resources can provide valuable information, emotional support, and practical advice for managing life with MS.

Ocrevus Research for Relapsing Remitting MS

Ocrevus has been extensively studied in relapsing remitting MS (RRMS). Clinical trials, such as OPERA I and II, have compared Ocrevus with other treatments like Rebif (interferon beta 1a), demonstrating its superiority in reducing relapse rates and MRI-detected lesions. This research underpins Ocrevus's approval and its role as a first-line treatment for RRMS.

Ocrevus Research for Primary Progressive MS

In primary progressive MS (PPMS), the ORATORIO clinical trial showed that Ocrevus could slow the progression of disability. This finding is significant, as treatment options for PPMS are limited, marking Ocrevus as a breakthrough in this MS subtype.

Research has shown that Ocrelizumab has a pronounced effect on radiological and relapse-related outcomes in patients with relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS). In two phase III trials (OPERA I and II), Ocrelizumab demonstrated decreased annualized relapse rates and fewer numbers of gadolinium-enhanced lesions on MRI scans compared to interferon beta-1a, a commonly used treatment for MS

Guide to Decision Making

Deciding on the right MS treatment can be challenging. Tools like DMT decision aids help patients and healthcare providers assess the benefits and risks of various treatments, ensuring informed choices tailored to individual needs.

OcrevusReduces relapse, slows disability progressionInfusion reactions, infection risk
TysabriSignificantly reduces relapse ratesRisk of PML, liver damage
LemtradaLong-term remission in some casesAutoimmune disorders, infusion reactions

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