Biology: A degenerative affliction

Charles Schmidt

Nature 540, S2–S3 doi:10.1038/540S2a
Published online

Multiple sclerosis often strikes between the ages of 20 and 40, when people are entering the workforce and raising families.

Turning against the self
Multiple sclerosis is an incurable illness in which the body’s own immune system destroys tissues in the central nervous system. T cells and B cells are thought to remove a protective coating called myelin that wraps around nerve fibres in the brain, spinal column and optic nerve. Exposed fibres are degraded, producing symptoms that vary depending on where the damage occurs.

A difficult diagnosis
Symptoms differ from person to person, making diagnosis difficult. Common symptoms include vision problems, weakness, instability and loss of bladder control. The proportion of people with some of the most common symptoms are shown below.

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Biology: A degenerative affliction

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Excellent article and graphics; I highly recommend reading this for anyone wanting to learn more about multiple sclerosis.

One thing I would have mentioned in this article is a third Type of multiple sclerosis, Progressive Relapsing MS (PRMS). While this is the rarest form of MS (only an estimated 5% have this type); the drugs mentioned in this article have been offered to me.