Bulletin, Institute

Unmasking Multiple Sclerosis

Original article featured on BioTech Primer Weekly


Continuing our series on central nervous system (CNS) disorders—previously covering Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s—we pivot to unmask Multiple Sclerosis this week. Famous faces suffering from Multiple Sclerosis (MS) include former talk show host Montel Williams and Sopranos star Jamie-Lynn Sigler. MS typically occurs in susceptible individuals between the ages of 20 and 50, and there are an estimated 2.3 million cases worldwide according to the MS Society.

Both a neurological disorder and autoimmune disease, MS originates as an immune-derived attack on the myelin sheath surrounding the axon portion of the neuron. With this insulating layer damaged, the electrical signal relied upon by neurons for communication loses the ability to push data forward. Initial symptoms vary due to the particular part of the nervous system affected. Neurons all along the front lines of communication are under threat, so symptoms can include motor, sensory, or visual problems.

About 85% of MS cases are relapsing-remitting (RRMS), meaning periods of recovery followed by remission are seen between clearly defined periods of new or increasing neurologic symptoms. Those afflicted with RRMS usually transition into secondary progressive MS, experiencing an accumulation of disability over time. Primary progressive MS, in contrast, exhibits a worsening of neurologic function from the onset of symptoms.  In both cases, significant loss in mobility continue as neurons lose their ability to send data.

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