A cure, in three acts

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In a recent meeting with Dr. John Richert, Vice-President for Research and Clinical Programs of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, I learned the reason that there is no cure for MS. Simply stated, there is noonecure for this disease. There is no one cure because those of us with MS see a "cure" as one of three different goals.

In order to understand, we need to think of ourselves as being in one of three camps: 1) Someone who is relatively new to diagnosis and symptoms of MS; 2) someone who has accumulated significant damage and disability due to MS; 3) and someone who is most concerned about children or grandchildren developing MS.

In each of these groups, a cure for MS means a different thing.

Those who are early in the disease see a cure as stopping the MS cold in its tracks and preventing new disease activity and progression. If that goal can be achieved, the current level of damage would most likely be something we could live with.

For those of us who have had MS for some time and are now using or looking at the need of a cane/walker/scooter, stopping the progression is not enough. We are looking for a fix to the damage. For this group, a cure means repair and regeneration of myelin and the nervous system in total.

People who see a cure as stopping the disease from ever occurring, they fall into the third camp. This may be the most difficult of all of the "cures." It could be argued that cures 1 and 2 are merely symptom management, but No. 3 is the vaccine solution.

So how are the doctors and researchers tackling the three cures? With three wholly different approaches.

Group 1 with research into "disease halting" drugs. Many of us have seen real benefit from the ABCR disease modifying drugs. (The ABCRs are Avonex, Betaseron, Copaxone and Rebif.) The next generation of drugs will slow the progression of MS even further and hopefully the generation after that will nearly stop progression.

Group 2 by funding research into the remyelination of the nervous system. It not only used to be thought, I remember when it was taught, that nerves could not re-grow and regenerate. We now know that that is not the case. This, for me, is the most exciting research going on in the MS community today; that we might be able to repair the damage, probably because I fall into this group of people with MS.

Group 3 will be the ultimate cure. Stop MS before it even occurs. This is the cure that will take the most work and probably not happen until we are successful with the first two. Much will have to happen before we get to the point of an MS vaccine, if it can happen at all.

So, there you have it in a nutshell. We not only have a complicated disease with no cure, our disease needs three cures. But know there are very competent people working very hard to find all three.

Wishing you and your families the best of health.

Last Updated:3/31/2006
Important:The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not Everyday Health.
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