New research shows MS, an auto-immune disease to likely be caused by another infectious disease. Could this be why so many people are diagnosed with MS and are later diagnosed with chronic Lyme disease?
According to information released by Mayo Clinic last year, Dr. Claudia Lucchinetti, M.D., co-lead author of the study (which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine) shows startling results at odds with what was previously believed.
Researchers have not known precisely what causes MS, but it has traditionally been thought to be its own autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks and destroys its own myelin. The resulting symptoms are very similar to Lyme disease and can include blindness, numbness, paralysis, and thinking and memory problems.
“Our study shows the cortex is involved early in MS and may even be the initial target of disease,” says Claudia F. Lucchinetti, M.D. , co-lead author of the study and Mayo Clinic neurologist . “Inflammation in the cortex must be considered when investigating the causes and progression of MS”, she says.
Study authors say current therapeutic options may not even address issues associated with the cortex. Understanding how the cortex is involved, therefore, is critical to creating new therapies for MS. “Measures of cortical damage will enhance enormously the power of clinical trials to determine if new medications address tissue changes of MS in all regions of the brain,” says co-lead authorRichard Ransohoff, M.D. , a Cleveland Clinic neurologist.
These measures are important because disease accumulates in the cortex over time, and inflammation in the cortex is a sign the disease has progressed.
The research is distinct because it studied brain tissues from patients in the earliest stages of MS. “What’s unique about the study is, and the reason the National MS Society funded this international team of researchers, is that it offers a rare view of MS.” says Timothy Coetzee, Ph.D., Chief Research Officer at the National Multiple Sclerosis Society . “Colloborative studies like this, that deepen our understanding of the sequence of nervous-system-damaging events, should offer new opportunities for stopping MS disease progression and improving quality of life for people with MS.”
The findings support the understanding that MS is primarily a disease of inflammation, not neurodegeneration, as some studies have recently suggested. Co-lead authors Drs. Lucchinetti and Ransohoff conclude that it is “overwhelmingly likely” that MS is fundamentally an inflammatory disease, and not a neurodegenerative Alzheimer-like disease.
Read the entire article at http://newsblog.mayoclinic.org/2011/12/05/ms-study/ and/or listen to this interview explaining the importance of this study via You Tube.