Medical research

Astrocytes and epilepsy

The neurodevelopmental disorder Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (TSC) is characterized by often severe epilepsy, along with autism and psychiatric disorders. Astrocytes—star-shaped glial cells that serve multiple functions in ...

Obstetrics & gynaecology

How pregnancy changes women's metabolism and immune systems

Some of the changes that happen to a woman's body during pregnancy are more obvious than others. We all know that women usually get a visible bump, they might have morning sickness initially, and swollen ankles later on, ...

Neuroscience

AAN recommends people 65+ be screened yearly for memory problems

People with mild cognitive impairment have thinking and memory problems but usually do not know it because such problems are not severe enough to affect their daily activities. Yet mild cognitive impairment can be an early ...

Immunology

Extinct human species gave modern humans an immunity boost

Findings from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research show modern humans acquired a gene variant from Denisovans that heightened their immune reactions, indicating adaptation of the immune system to a changing environment.

Neuroscience

Serum biomarker linked to brain atrophy in multiple sclerosis

(HealthDay)—Serum neurofilament light chain (sNFL) levels are significantly associated with clinical and neuroimaging outcomes in multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a study published online Aug. 12 in JAMA Neurology.

Health

Long-term night-shift work may up risk for multiple sclerosis

(HealthDay)—A history of 20+ years of rotating night-shift work is associated with an increased risk for definite diagnosis of multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a study published online Aug. 12 in Occupational & Environmental ...

Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes

New app offers faster and easier assessment for multiple sclerosis

Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers report they have developed and validated a tablet-based app that offers a faster, easier and more accurate way for health care providers who don't have specialized training to assess the ...

Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes

AAN issues guideline on vaccines and multiple sclerosis

Can a person with multiple sclerosis (MS) get regular vaccines? According to a new guideline, the answer is yes. The guideline, developed by the American Academy of Neurology (AAN), recommends that people with MS receive ...

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Multiple sclerosis (abbreviated to MS, known as disseminated sclerosis or encephalomyelitis disseminata) is an inflammatory disease in which the fatty myelin sheaths around the axons of the brain and spinal cord are damaged, leading to demyelination and scarring as well as a broad spectrum of signs and symptoms. Disease onset usually occurs in young adults, and it is more common in women. It has a prevalence that ranges between 2 and 150 per 100,000. MS was first described in 1868 by Jean-Martin Charcot.

MS affects the ability of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord to communicate with each other effectively. Nerve cells communicate by sending electrical signals called action potentials down long fibers called axons, which are contained within an insulating substance called myelin. In MS, the body's own immune system attacks and damages the myelin. When myelin is lost, the axons can no longer effectively conduct signals. The name multiple sclerosis refers to scars (scleroses—better known as plaques or lesions) particularly in the white matter of the brain and spinal cord, which is mainly composed of myelin. Although much is known about the mechanisms involved in the disease process, the cause remains unknown. Theories include genetics or infections. Different environmental risk factors have also been found.

Almost any neurological symptom can appear with the disease, and often progresses to physical and cognitive disability. MS takes several forms, with new symptoms occurring either in discrete attacks (relapsing forms) or slowly accumulating over time (progressive forms). Between attacks, symptoms may go away completely, but permanent neurological problems often occur, especially as the disease advances.

There is no known cure for multiple sclerosis. Treatments attempt to return function after an attack, prevent new attacks, and prevent disability. MS medications can have adverse effects or be poorly tolerated, and many patients pursue alternative treatments, despite the lack of supporting scientific study. The prognosis is difficult to predict; it depends on the subtype of the disease, the individual patient's disease characteristics, the initial symptoms and the degree of disability the person experiences as time advances. Life expectancy of people with MS is 5 to 10 years lower than that of the unaffected population.

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