Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes

Slowing the progression of multiple sclerosis

Over 77,000 Canadians are living with multiple sclerosis, a disease whose causes still remain unknown. Presently, they have no hope for a cure. In a study published in Science Translational Medicine, researchers at the University ...

Neuroscience

7T MRI offers new insights into multiple sclerosis

Increased immune system activity along the surface of the brain, or meningeal inflammation, may be important for understanding how multiple sclerosis (MS) progresses from the most common and earliest form of the disease known ...

Medications

MENACTRIMS guidelines for multiple sclerosis updated

(HealthDay)—In a revised 2019 guideline, published in the January 2020 issue of Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders, updated recommendations from the Middle East North Africa Committee for Treatment and Research in ...

Neuroscience

Many multiple sclerosis patients considering stem cell transplant

(HealthDay)—Many multiple sclerosis (MS) patients are considering autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (aHSCT) as a treatment option, according to a study published in the January 2020 issue of Multiple Sclerosis ...

Genetics

Potential genetic markers of multiple sclerosis severity

In a bid to determine factors linked to the most debilitating forms of multiple sclerosis (MS), Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers say they have identified three so-called "complement system" genes that appear to play a role ...

Psychology & Psychiatry

Depressed MS-patients suffer debilitating symptoms earlier

People with multiple sclerosis (MS) who also have depression are more likely to suffer debilitating symptoms early than people with MS who are not depressed, according to a study at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden that is ...

Genetics

Scientists find molecular key to body making healthy T cells

In a finding that could help lead to new therapies for immune diseases like multiple sclerosis and IBD, scientists report in the Journal of Experimental Medicine identifying a gene and family of proteins critical to the formation ...

Neuroscience

Why myelinated mammalian nerves are fast and allow high frequency

University of Alabama at Birmingham researchers, for the first time ever, have achieved patch-clamp studies of an elusive part of mammalian myelinated nerves called the Nodes of Ranvier. At the nodes, they found unexpected ...

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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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