Many PicnicHealth users endure chronic illnesses that affect their daily lives. The medical community is still seeking answers for many severe and chronic diseases. Whether it’s trying to determine a cause or trying to find new treatments—or even a cure—medical researchers around the globe are continually making discoveries and creating new studies that may aid them in treating patients who suffer from “incurable” diseases.
Multiple Sclerosis: Still Seeking Answers
One such disease that is yet to find a specific cause or cure is multiple sclerosis (MS). MS is an autoimmune disease, a condition where the body’s immune system attacks its healthy tissues instead of attacking foreign viruses. MS causes the immune system to malfunction and attack the fatty substance that protects the body’s nerve fibers, called myelin, wearing them down or stripping the nerves of the material altogether. It even affects the nerves in the brain and the spinal cord.
To date, there is still no cure for multiple sclerosis. Nevertheless, doctors and medical researchers have worked tirelessly to continue searching for better drugs and treatments. Their studies and discoveries improve the way the disease is understood, give patients a better quality of life, and can even extend life expectancies beyond what they would have been.
According to the Mayo Clinic, new disease-modifying therapies or DMTs are currently being developed and studied for MS. The purpose of DMTs is to reduce how often and how severe the recurrence of MS symptoms happen to a patient. DMTs also hold promise for lengthening their times of remission and decreasing the neurological damage that MS attacks cause.
One of the new therapies that is currently being studied is the use of a recently FDA-approved drug named ocrelizumab, which reduces the relapse rate as well as the potential to develop disabilities. It’s the first DMT of its kind that slows the progression for primary-progressive MS.
More recently approved treatments are fingolimod, which treats pediatric MS, and higher doses of glatiramer acetate injections. The medication, which previously existed as a treatment for MS, is now approved for up to three times a week at a 40mg dosage. Along with currently approved therapies, the drug ibudilast is now in its phase II of clinical trials, and is considered as another promising drug to reduce the progression of disability.
Gene research has also made some progress as scientists have studied and identified more than 200 genetic variants that may be associated with MS and how it manifests. The identification of four new genes that have been linked to the disease may help scientists find better ways to treat and prevent MS.
New potential targets have been identified by researchers when it comes to stopping nerve loss due to MS. Scientists and researchers from the Gladstone Institutes and the University of California San Francisco report that they’ve made progress in mapping out how nerve degeneration happens in MS as well as other similar disorders. By focusing on the activated immune cells in the brain and spinal cord, they studied a condition called “oxidative stress,” which is an imbalance of harmful free radicals. By using state-of-the-art technologies, these scientists were able to develop an “atlas” of the interactions between these immune cells in the brain.
There is still a long way to go for researchers and scientists when it comes to ultimately defeating MS. But with every passing year, there is more promise that springs up from the studies and treatments getting developed. It gives renewed hope to people who still suffer from MS.
PicnicHealth is supporting new research into MS. Learn more by visiting Flywheel.MS.