Neuroscience

The highways of our brain

Researchers from the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience (NIN) used a new technique to show how electrical impulses are traveling at high speed in the brain. It appears that myelin, the sheath around neurons, creates a ...

Neuroscience

Locomotor engine in the spinal cord revealed

Researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have revealed a new principle of organization which explains how locomotion is coordinated in vertebrates akin to an engine with three gears. The results are published in the ...

Neuroscience

A molecular switch for repairing central nervous system disorders

A molecular switch has the ability to turn on a substance in animals that repairs neurological damage in disorders such as multiple sclerosis (MS), Mayo Clinic researchers discovered. The early research in animal models could ...

Neuroscience

New ultrasound technique significantly improves brain performance

In neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease or Multiple Sclerosis, brain neurons are constantly being lost, resulting in memory lapses, speech disorders, mood swings and movement disorders, for ...

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Multiple sclerosis (abbreviated to MS, known as disseminated sclerosis or encephalomyelitis disseminata) is an inflammatory disease in which the fatty myelin sheaths around the axons of the brain and spinal cord are damaged, leading to demyelination and scarring as well as a broad spectrum of signs and symptoms. Disease onset usually occurs in young adults, and it is more common in women. It has a prevalence that ranges between 2 and 150 per 100,000. MS was first described in 1868 by Jean-Martin Charcot.

MS affects the ability of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord to communicate with each other effectively. Nerve cells communicate by sending electrical signals called action potentials down long fibers called axons, which are contained within an insulating substance called myelin. In MS, the body's own immune system attacks and damages the myelin. When myelin is lost, the axons can no longer effectively conduct signals. The name multiple sclerosis refers to scars (scleroses—better known as plaques or lesions) particularly in the white matter of the brain and spinal cord, which is mainly composed of myelin. Although much is known about the mechanisms involved in the disease process, the cause remains unknown. Theories include genetics or infections. Different environmental risk factors have also been found.

Almost any neurological symptom can appear with the disease, and often progresses to physical and cognitive disability. MS takes several forms, with new symptoms occurring either in discrete attacks (relapsing forms) or slowly accumulating over time (progressive forms). Between attacks, symptoms may go away completely, but permanent neurological problems often occur, especially as the disease advances.

There is no known cure for multiple sclerosis. Treatments attempt to return function after an attack, prevent new attacks, and prevent disability. MS medications can have adverse effects or be poorly tolerated, and many patients pursue alternative treatments, despite the lack of supporting scientific study. The prognosis is difficult to predict; it depends on the subtype of the disease, the individual patient's disease characteristics, the initial symptoms and the degree of disability the person experiences as time advances. Life expectancy of people with MS is 5 to 10 years lower than that of the unaffected population.

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