What is Multiple Sclerosis?
According to the National MS Society, “Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system. It disrupts the flow of information within the brain and between the brain and the body.”
MS is a disease that affects more than 2.3 million people worldwide. Significantly more women are affected compared to men. For MS sufferers, the insulating cover of the axons of their nerve cells are attacked by the body’s own immune system. This causes a short circuit in messages being sent to their brain that there is danger. A host of symptoms result from this broken communication.
What Causes MS?
No one really knows what causes MS. It usually appears suddenly somewhere between the age of 30 and 60. Patients describe a feeling of ants crawling up and down their arms. Symptoms of MS include muscle weakness, paralysis, pain, trouble with coordination, vision problems and a difficult time feeling sensations.
There are two main kinds of MS. One causes isolated attacks and the other gets worse over time, also known as intermittent. Symptoms go away between attacks, but damage can remain.
Is there a cure?
Unfortunately there is no cure for MS yet, but there are a wide range of treatments available to help alleviate the symptoms. Copaxone, developed at The Weizmann institute and made by Teva pharmaceutical is one of the treatments developed and made in Israel. We currently carry this medication on our website, as well as other drugs used by MS sufferers.
Israeli Medical Innovation
Researchers at Tel Aviv University recently published new findings about the environmental conditions in the journal Proceedings of the [US] National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). According to their study, environmental factors may trigger structural changes and make the body more vulnerable during early stages of MS. Professor Roy Beck of the Tel Aviv University School of Physics and Astronomy led a study conducted by Rona Shaharabaniand Maor Ram-On. Ronen Talmon from Haifa’s Technion-Israel Institute of Technology.
What makes this research new and innovative is that instead of focusing on treatment of MS, the Israeli research is looking at what causes MS. Beck and his team used X-ray scattering and cryogenic transmission electron microscopy (cryo-TEM). They tracked and measured the myelin sheaths in healthy and diseased animal models. Results showed that elevated salinity (saltiness) and temperature impact the myelin sheaths and can cause neurons to change structurally. It can also cause myelin structures like those found in MS.
The Israeli research team hopes that by explaining the cause of MS they can help open new avenues for treatment and find a cure.