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N.M.S.S. in 1997

For over 50 years the National Mutiple Sclerosis Society, NMSS, has been supporting the MS patient and supporting research into the disease. This is a wonderful organization that I fully support even though I knew little about them until I had the disease. I urge all those who know me to also support the NMSS with time and cash. The NMSS effots have lead to many advances against MS and will continue until the disease is in full control.

On a regular bases NMSS prepares The Society News with regular updates and news. The Winter 1988 copy listed some of the advances made possible by the NMSS. For those who do not take the news letter I have prepared the following. It is some of the advances noted with my interpretation of what it means and a few supporting links for further information.

National Multiple Sclerosis Society
Georgia Chapter
1100 Circle 75 Parkway, Suite 630
Atlanta, Georgia 30379
(800) 822-3379

herpes virus 6

Researchers from laboratories around the world reported additional evidence for the possibility that herpes virus 6 may be linked to MS. This lead is being actively pursued by several Society-supported investigators.

I am not sure why this was noted. Most of the population carries the herpes virus. (I think this one causes lip sores or 'fever blisters') MS has been linked with many virus in the past that had little significance. I guess we will have to wait and see what the researchers make of this one.

myelin-making cells

Society grantees at the University of Wisconsin-Madison successfully transplanted myelin-making cells, causing new mylin to grow in the spinal cords of genetically mutant laboratory animals. This adds to evidence that transplanted myelin cells may be useful in the future for treating humans with MS, once the immune attack underlying the disease is stopped.

This one may be a biggie. In theory this treatment could aid the MSer in regaining some function after an excerbation is over. New myelin would cover the exposed nerve cells making them again capable of sending signals. Some if not all physical function could be restored. I would not call this a cure but it could be an effective treatment.

Recently in the news it was sid that 'they' have discovered that MS kills brain cells in addition to attacking the myelin. It is my understanding that the death of brain cells is a result of losing the mylelin coat. More research is needed to determine this death rate but there is no evidence that MS directly kills the brain cell.

estrogen in women

Socity-sponsored researchers at the University of Southern California showed that levels of the hormone estrogen in women could influence immune cells to release chemicals that regulate immune responses. This landmark study may begin to explain how hormones regulate immune activity and how they may influence the course. of MS.

Statistics point out that more women get MS than men BUT MS is more severe for men than women. This study is looking into estrogen as a boost to the immune system. The question is, can the course of MS be altered by giving suppliments of estrogen? (I just hope this does not mean that men would start growing breats.)

monoclonal antibodies

Two new clinical trials began of two laboratory-produced monoclonal antibodies to treat relapsing-remitting and secondary-progressive MS at medial centers across North American. The studies will test the ability of 'Hu23F2G' (ICOS Corporation)l and 'Antegren' (Athena Neurosciences) to reduce the severity and duration of acute attacks.

Hu23F2G is an anti-inflammatory IV drug being developed primarily for trauma victims. If adminsitered early the drug has had success reducing the damage caused by trauma to the body. The drug acts like an antibody preventing the white blood cells from overreacting and causing damage. The MS trials will look at the effect when the drug is given early in an exacerbation to see if the MS attack is shortened and less damaging.

Antegren is another drug to be adminsitered early in an exacerbation. It is a monoclonal antibody that is believed to interfere with the movement of immune cells across the blood brain barrier thus reducing the inflammation.

peptide therapy

Researchers at Oregon Health Sciences University and collaborators at 10 other U.s. centers began a clinical trial testing the ability of injections of altered fragments of immune cells, or 'peptide therapy', to treat relapsing-remitting and secondary-progressive MS.

A peptide is an altered protein fragment. This therapy involves altering T-cell receptors then re-injecting these altered cells back into the body. Net effect: these altered T-cells stop the normal T-cells that attack myelin. So what you have is an immune response against an immune response. In early and limited studies this therapy did mediate MS for some patients.

Betaseron and Avonex

Worldwide, over 70 substances were in various stages of testing against MS. In the U.S., two definitive Phase III clinical trials continued to study Betaseron (for secondary-progressive MS) and Avonex )for single demyelinating-episodes before definite diagnosis of MS).

BetaSeron Home Page
Avonex by Biogen

flu vaccine

In a controlled study supported by the Society, researchers at Maimonides Medical Center (Brooklyn, NY) and four other MS centers showed that flu vaccine can be considered safe for use by persons with MS.

In the past most doctors believed that flu shots were not good for MSer's. It was thought the vaccine might activate the immune system thus causing an exacerbation. If the study is validated then MSer's can get some protection from the flu.

bone marrow transplant

Investigators at several centers in the U.S. began experimenting with bone marrow transplant to treat severe Ms. This risky procedure eliminates all immune cells and then repopulates the body with new, naive immune cells from bone marrow.

Bone marrow transplant is a last resort. This is one procedure I would not use for man nor money.

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