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A review of evidence on the first licensed preparation, Sativex, said there were "limitations" which made it difficult to identify the place of the product in clinical practice.
However the makers of the drug said they believed the comments gave a misleading view and that the review writers appeared to have misunderstood important elements of trials.
Sativex, in the form of a mouth spray, contains the principal extracts - dronabinol and cannabidiol - found in the leaf and flower of the cannabis plant, and is the first cannabinoid preparation to be licensed for use in the treatment of muscle spasms in MS.
The review, in the December issue of Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin (DTB), published by BMJ Journals, says MS is estimated to affect around 60,000 people in England and Wales, and around one in every 1,000 people will develop the condition in the UK.
An increase in muscle tone, or spasticity, is a common symptom of the condition, causing involuntary spasms, immobility, disturbed sleep, and pain.
Complex combinations of drugs are sometimes needed to manage spasticity, but they do not work that well and have a range of unpleasant side-effects, the DTB says.
Sativex is intended for use as a second-line treatment in patients in whom these other options have failed. But the review said the trial data on which the success of Sativex is based are limited.
Overall, the trials, on which the drug's approval was based, did show a small difference in the numbers of patients in whom symptoms abated compared with those taking a dummy (placebo) preparation, it said.
But in many of these studies, Sativex was used for relatively short periods - from six weeks to four months. And none included an active ingredient with which the effects of Sativex could be compared.
— A nanotechnology approach to controlling multiple sclerosis in mice may benefit humans, a new study shows.
Thanks to new high-powered microscopes, nanotechnology allows scientists to see and manipulate natural and man-made materials on a tiny scale. The nanoparticles in this study were made of the same material as biodegradable stitches, yet so tiny that they were approximately 200 times thinner than a human hair. And instead of helping to heal tissue, the nanoparticles delivered a valuable compound to heal the immune system of mice with MS.
The study offers scientists new insight into the potential of rebooting the immune system of people afflicted by MS, but it is still early to know whether the technique will benefit humans. "There’s a big jump between animals and humans. The immune systems look different and behave differently," says Daniel Kantor, MD, president of the Florida Society of Neurology and member of the American Academy of Neurology. Dr. Kantor says that the study gives hope to researchers who are trying to come up with better treatments and one day a cure for MS. "The next stage is to make sure it's safe and works in humans. It could be under a decade or decades before the research is proven to be effective," says Kantor.
MS gradually destroys parts of the brain and spinal cord by inflaming or damaging the myelin sheath. This fatty tissue insulates nerve cells and greases the path of communication between thought in the brain and action in the body. This leads to numbness, balance problems, muscle spasms and other debilitating symptoms.
Autoimmune disorders like MS occur when T-cells — a type of white blood cell within the immune system — mistake the body's own tissues as a foreign substance and go on the attack. In the case of MS, they confuse myelin as foreign.Scientists aren't certain why MS attacks myelin, but they do know that if they can control the body's immune response to the disease, they may be able to stop its progression.
"Our approach resets the immune system so it no longer attacks myelin but leaves the function of the normal immune system intact," said Stephen Miller, PhD, in a press release about the study published in the journal Nature Biotechnology. Miller is co-author of the study and professor of microbiology-immunology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
THE study, carried out with the universities of Edinburgh and Aberdeen, is the first of its kind in nearly 40 years.
THE Orkney Islands has the highest rate of multiple sclerosis in the world, according to a study.
Research revealed that the tiny group of islands have, per capita, more people with the degenerative neurological condition than any other place, according to a study looking at the prevalence of the disease across the world.
The research also discovered that the number of people with MS in Orkney has increased, and that one in 170 women has the condition.
Researchers said the study, carried out with the universities of Edinburgh and Aberdeen, is the first of its kind in nearly 40 years. Now they are trying to work out why the rate in Orkney is so high.
Previous studies also show high rates of MS in Orkney, along with other parts of Scotland, Canada and Scandinavia, but the new research finds that the rate for probable or definite cases in Orkney is now 402 per 100,000.
That figure is up on the previous high, recorded in 1974, is 309 per 100,000 and compares with 295 per 100,000 in Shetland and 229 per 100,000 in Aberdeen.
The most recently reported rates for Alberta and Nova Scotia in Canada are around 350 per 100,000.
Twenty years ago, there were no drugs at all for M.S.
Now there are nine, with more coming
1:35PM EST December 9. 2012 - When Jennifer Leon Hill walked down the aisle in October , she didn't feel clumsy, she didn't limp, and she didn't use the cane she sometimes needs for support.
Sure, the excitement of her wedding helped. But so have the lifestyle changes she's made since her diagnosis with multiple sclerosis, and the medication she's been able to take for it.
Three years ago, when Hill, 42, of Chandler, Ariz., was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, there were only a few drugs available to treat it — and none was very appealing. The drugs were delivered by daily or weekly injection, often didn't help much, and had potentially devastating side effects.
Instead of prescribing one of them, Hill's neurologist enrolled her in a research study testing a once-a-day pill that promised fewer side effects and equal or better effectiveness.
This will be featured on CNN/Comcast Cable
Newsmakers all month long (on Sundays). Our very own, Deanna Kirkpatrick of
Multiple Sclerosis Unplugged was in attendance (sp?) at Clay Walker's BAMS
Gala and Neurological Symposium (that is open and free to MS patients) for a
question/answer panel with leading Neurologists. Click to watch and listen: https://www.facebook.com/v/4113441199762
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People living on a group of Scottish islands could have the highest rate of multiple sclerosis in the world thanks to the Vikings, researchers claim.
Scientists at Edinburgh University found that one in every 170 women in the Orkney Islands suffers from the disease.
Dr Jim Wilson, who led the study, said their Norse ancestry may be at least partly to blame.
The Vikings used the islands as a base for their raids and they remained under the rule of Norwegian “jarls” until 1231.
Dr Wilson, a genetics expert at Edinburgh University, said: 'Something people have thought for a long time is that the prevalence of MS could be linked to the island’s Scandinavian history, and this could be an explanation for it, though not the entire story.
'Studies that I have done, as well as others, show that half of the general population of the isles originates from Scandinavia, through the Vikings.
'There are places in Scandanavia with a higher prevalence [of MS], but there is also a real Scottish element to this disease.
'We studied in Canada as well and area’s where there is a large Scottish heritage seems to have more people that suffer from the disease, compared to a place like Quebec where the descendents are mainly French.
'I think there is a combination of genetic and environmental factors- a lack of vitamin D from the limited sun exposure is also considered to be linked.'
Dr Wilson said that the 20,000 population on the Orkneys could be more exposed due to an inherited genetic weakness yet to be discovered by scientists.
He said: 'With this clustering, some people would try to say it is due to the soil or something in the water. But, at least in the past, people married in their own community very often.
'At some level with their genetic background people in a parish are part of the same extended family. Even if we have not been able to find a genetic factor [to explain the dense levels of MS] it does not mean that it is not out there.'
The State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo is home to one of the leading multiple sclerosis (MS) research centers in the world. It's one spot where big-data-powered analysis is helping researchers understand potential causes and treatments of the disease, accelerating the race to a cure.
What causes MS is not precisely known. Currently it is believed to originate from some complex combination of a virus and gene defect(s), perhaps in association with such environmental factors as sunlight and cigarette smoke.
Dr. Murali Ramanathan, is co-director of the Data Intensive Discovery Initiative at the SUNY research center. A technique developed there called AMBIENCE enables them to efficiently search for the interaction of multiple genetic variations -- called single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP, pronounced "snips") -- and environmental factors that raise the risk of patients contracting multiple sclerosis.
The data sets used in this multivariable research total more than 250TB -- and the analysis is very demanding computationally because the researchers are looking for significant interactions between thousands of genetic and environmental factors.
In this research, there were two main issues to overcome: crunching through the immense data set and achieving sophisticated and easily customizable analytic models across a wide range of data sets. The researchers wanted to see not only which individual variables were significant, but also which combinations of variables stood out.
Running the algorithms required with sample data on commodity hardware took almost a week. It quickly dawned on the researchers that it would take many weeks to run the algorithms with all the data -- the results from which would lead to additional questions, algorithm adjustments, data changes, and so on.