Multiple sclerosis is an inflammatory autoimmune disease of the central nervous system characterized by demyelinating lesions in the brain. The brain lesions represent damage to the insulating layer surrounding axons or nerve cells within the brain. People with MS experience vision, movement, and cognitive processing problems as well as fatigue.

The disease varies between individuals.  It usually begins with symptoms that come and go, but it can present as a progressive disease. It is usually diagnosed in those between 20 and 40 years old.  Women appear to be more susceptible. It is still unknown how this disease begins and why it persists and progresses.

Many infectious pathogens have been associated with MS. Currently, there is interest in an endogenous retrovirus, HERV-W, which has been highly associated with this illness and has led to the development of a novel monoclonal antibody. Endogenous retroviruses are retroviruses that have become a part of our human DNA. They are known to become activated by the same herpes viruses that are found in the brains of MS patients. Together, these viruses may play an important role in this disease.

How is MS treated?

MS is treated with anti-inflammatory medications in an effort to avoid permanent damage to the nervous system. Other MS drugs alter immune cell function. Patients also benefit from physical therapy and symptomatic medications.