Do we understand MS?

Multiple sclerosis (MS) affects myelin, the fatty insulating material wrapped around axons. When myelin gradually breaks down, the nerves can no longer efficiently carry electric signals between the brain and body. Some researchers think that MS is an autoimmune disease - the body's own immune system breaks down the myelin. The trigger for this self-destruction is not known, but it could involve a virus.

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In multiple sclerosis the myelin (arrowed) around nerves gradually breaks down.

Can we treat MS?

There is no cure for multiple sclerosis (MS) at present. Drugs are used to 'damp down' the immune response during an acute attack, but these do not halt the disease. New drugs (such as interferon beta) appear to reduce the number of attacks. Many of the symptoms of MS improve temporarily with drug treatment and lifestyle changes, but it is not possible to stop the progression of the disease.

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New drugs such as interferon beta appear to reduce the number of attacks in multiple sclerosis.


Principal Funder:

Wellcome trust

Major Sponsors:

GlaxoSmithKline life technologies