Sunday, January 31, 2010

Swallowing Difficulties

Swallowing is such an automatic process that we give it little thought, however many forms and degrees of swallowing problems are experienced in MS and all phases of the swallowing process can be affected
© Multiple Sclerosis Resource Centre

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New Oral MS Drugs May Be on the Horizon

Studies Show Cladribine and Fingolimod Are Effective Treatments for Multiple Sclerosis
By Kathleen Doheny
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Jan. 20, 2010 -- Two new drugs for multiple sclerosis, both taken orally, reduce the rates of relapses in multiple sclerosis patients -- sometimes keeping 80% or more of patients relapse-free during the study period -- according to new research. The new drugs, if approved, promise an end to injections for some patients.

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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Babies born in April have 'higher MS risk'
Published: 8:56AM GMT 03 Jan 2010

Babies born in April face an increased risk of suffering from multiple sclerosis in later life, possibly as a result of their mothers' lack of
exposure to sunlight, according to research.

Scientists found mothers who were pregnant during the autumn and winter were most likely to give birth to those who would suffer from the debilitating neurological
The researchers, based at Glasgow university and the city's Southern General Hospital, believe the spike in cases among children born in the spring may be due to
a shortage of vitamin D because duing a vital developmental stage their mothers are exposed to less sunshine.

Vitamin D, which is largely gained through sunlight and food, is known to regulate a gene that can predispose individuals to MS. If the gene is passed on to the
unborn child, without being regulated by a sufficient amount of vitamin D, it could "hard wire" them to develop the disease in later life.
The new study, published in the European Journal of Neurology, is the biggest yet carried out in Scotland, which has the highest rate of MS in the world.
MS affects about 85,000 people in the UK and 10,500 in Scotland. While the cause is not known, experts believe a combination of genetic and environmental factors
are responsible for the condition.
The Glasgow researchers examined data on about 1,300 MS patients born in the west of Scotland between 1922 and 1992. They found that about 400 people born
in March, April and May went on to develop MS, 22per cent higher than expected. Almost half of all male and a quarter of female sufferers were born in April.
By comparison, there were about 16per cent fewer MS births in the autumn months. Those born in November had the lowest incidence of the disease.

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© Copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited 2010

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Marijuana Eases Spasticity in MS Patients

Studies Show Marijuana Extracts May Have Therapeutic Value for Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms
By Bill Hendrick
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Dec. 4, 2009 -- Marijuana extracts may reduce spasticity symptoms in people with multiple sclerosis, a new study shows.

The review, by Shaheen Lakhan, PhD, and Marie Rowland, PhD, of the Global Neuroscience Initiative Foundation in Los Angeles, found that five of six published studies they analyzed reported a reduction in spasticity and an improvement in mobility in MS patients treated with marijuana extracts.

Lakhan tells WebMD in an email that the extracts were administered orally. The reviewed studies included the use of cannabis extracts delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, and cannabidiol, or CBD, in people with MS.

"We found evidence that combined THC and CBD extracts may provide therapeutic benefit for MS spasticity symptoms," Lakhan says in a news release.

Involuntary muscle spasms (spasticity) are common symptoms of MS. The researchers say that many existing therapies for this condition are difficult to obtain, ineffective, or associated with intolerable side effects.

Side effects varied greatly and depended on the amount needed to limit spasticity, the researchers write. However, side effects also were seen in people in placebo groups.

"Considering the distress and limitations spasticity brings to individuals with MS, it is important to carefully weigh the potential for side effects with the potential for symptom relief, they say in the news release.

Lakhan says the therapeutic potential of cannabinoids in MS "is comprehensive and should be given considerable attention."

In the paper, published in the open access journal BMC Neurology, the researchers write that recently introduced therapies of combined THC and CBD have the potential to relieve symptoms and that past reviews have suggested that cannabinoid therapy is beneficial for people with MS.

Generally, use of the marijuana extracts were well-tolerated in patients, the researchers write.

"We found evidence that combined THC and CBD extracts may provide therapeutic benefit for MS spasticity symptoms. Although some objective measures of spasticity noted improvement trends, there were no changes found to be significant in post-treatment assessments."

But subjective assessment of relief of spasticity suggested significant improvement after treatment, they write.

The reviewed studies were published between 2002 and 2007 and included data from nearly 500 people with MS. Five of the six studies analyzed reported significant improvements in spasticity; one study reported no improvement in spasticity.

Myelin © Multiple Sclerosis Resource Centre
In order to understand Multiple Sclerosis and the role Myelin has to play in this disease , some basic facts about the nervous system in the body need to be addressed.

The body's nervous system is made up of two main components: the Central Nervous System (CNS) and the Peripheral Nervous System (PNS). Together, these two systems interact to carry and receive signals that are responsible for nearly every function within the body, including involuntary functions, those a person does not have to consciously think about, such as the beating of the heart or breathing, and voluntary functions such as walking or using your fingers on a computer keyboard to read and scroll up and down this page, which to some extent are consciously thought about .

The Central Nevous System (CNS) is made up of the brain and the spinal cord, and contains billions of specialised cells known as Neurons. Neurons have specific projections called Dendrites and Axons that contribute to their unique function of transmitting signals throughout the body. Dendrites carry electrical signals to the Neuron, while Axons carry them away from the Neuron.

The Peripheral Nervous System (PNS) consists of the rest of the Neurons in the body outside of the Central Nevous System (CNS) . These include the Sensory Neurons, which detect any sensory stimuli and alert the CNS of their presence, and Motor Neurons, which connect the CNS to the muscles and carry out instructions from the CNS for movement.

Picture © John W.Rose, M.D., Maria Houtchens, MSIII, Sharon G. Lynch,M.D

Myelin, is sometimes referred to as "white matter" because of its white, fatty appearance, it protects and insulates the Axons. Myelin consists of a protective sheath of many different molecules that include both lipids (fatty molecules) and proteins. The protective sheath acts in a very similar way to that of the protective insulation that surrounds an electric wire; that is, it is necessary for the rapid transmission of electrical signals between Neurons. It does this by containing the electrical molecules within the Axon so that they are all properly transmitted to the next Neuron.

With the protective Myelin coat, Neurons can transmit signals at speeds up to 60 meters per second.

Picture Copyright © 1997-2005 Mount Sinai Hospital

When the coat is damaged, as with Multiple Sclerosis, the maximum speed can decrease by ten-fold or more, since some of the signal is lost during transmission. This decrease in speed of signal transmission leads to significant disruption in the proper functioning of the nervous system.

Keep up to date with the latest on Myelin Research
© Multiple Sclerosis Resource Centre