Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease of the central nervous system (CNS) including the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves. Symptoms of MS include: numbness of the limbs, paralysis, and loss of vision. The disease is characterised by unpredictability with variations from one patient to another.
Fact 1. MS differs from muscular dystrophy (MD) which is a progressive, irreversible wasting of the muscle tissue disease although both diseases have common symptoms such as problems with limb movements.
Fact 2. Research studies on the eyes of MS patients have found that the thinning of the back layer of the eye could be a precursor indicating the damage to the nervous system. This could assist in the study of nerve protection amongst MS patients.
Fact 3. The immune system in MS patients causes damage to the brain and spinal cord. Nerve fibers and cells which transmit messages are damaged even when the inflammation is controlled. The challenge in protecting the nervous system lies in anticipating and measuring the progression of the damage.
Fact 4. MS affects more women than men and is commonly diagnosed between the ages of 20 to 40.
Fact 5. Within the Asian populations, MS is a relatively new disease as until the late 1970’s MS was not known in many Asian countries.
Fact 6. In Korea, MS is considered a rare disease afflicting mainly young people.
Fact 7. Research from Iran, after two and half years of study, has found an herbal substance made from the oils in plants that claims to be able to cure MS.
Fact 8. MS stem cell research in animals has focused on controlling the damage to the central nervous system by generating a new myelin sheath that protects the nerves. In most cases of MS, the myelin sheath is damaged leading to a loss of connectivity between nerve cells. Although research has been successful in mice, not knowing the exact cause of MS in humans will require further, in-depth research before conclusive answers can be found.
Fact 9. The total number of MS patients worldwide is an estimated 2.5 million. The countries with the most number of MS patients are: United States (2,844), Germany (917), Poland (457), Canada (415), Brazil (282), Netherlands (197), Spain (177), and Mexico (177).
Fact 10. Studies undertaken on MS patients revolve around the roles of the immune system’s cells towards therapeutic targets to prevent or contain the disease and on the body’s protective mechanisms that could prevent MS. The main focus of the studies is to avoid the side effects of immune suppressants such as corticosteroids.