At school this week, we were asked to use the NHS website to summarise and present on a specified disease, and I was given multiple sclerosis, so I decided to post the backbone of my script, as I found it very interesting. Enjoy:
So what is multiple sclerosis?
The NHS website defines multiple sclerosis as a condition which can affect the brain and/or spinal cord, causing a wide range of potential symptoms, including problems with vision, arm or leg movement, sensation and balance.
The disease affects over 100,000 people in the UK and is commonly diagnosed in people who are in their late 20s to early 30s. As a result of higher levels of the blood vessel receptor protein S1PR2, multiple sclerosis is four times more prevalent in women than in men, and I talk about this a bit ore later on.
Currently, it is considered incurable, although many of the symptoms can be treated to improve the quality of life for the patient.
What are the symptoms of multiple sclerosis?
The symptoms include, although are not limited to: problems with balance and muscle coordination; difficulty thinking, learning and planning; vision problems, and muscle stiffness and spasms.
The two types of multiple sclerosis:
In over 80% of cases, the multiple sclerosis patient suffers from what is known as relapsing-remitting MS. This means they suffer episodes known as relapses, in which the symptoms gradually worsen over a period of time that can range from a few days to several months, and then slowly improve over a similar period of time. These relapses can occur without warning and for no reason, although high stress levels or serious illnesses are thought to trigger them. Periods between relapses are called remission, and during this time, the patient can lead a relatively normal life. Unfortunately, later in life, this type of multiple sclerosis develops into secondary progressive (see primary progressive for symptoms).
Just over 1 in 10 people have primary progressive MS, in which, once the symptoms begin, they get worse and worse, and begin to accumulate along with other symptoms and consequently the health of the patient will deteriorate over time Although the life expectancy is not much less than that of a healthy person, the latter half could become painful, and this can be very upsetting for the family and friends to witness.
What causes multiple sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis os caused by an abnormal immune response, in which the immune system attacks the myelin coating nerve fibres in the CNS, causing damaging and scarring. This results in the nerves travelling much slower, or prevents them from getting through at all. Women have more S1PR2 protein receptors, which are involved in regulating the passage from the blood stream to the brain, which therefore enables immune cells to get to the brain and attack myelin. This is believed to be why there is a higher occurrence of multiple sclerosis in women than in men.
Steroid medication to speed up recovery from relapses
Specific treatment for individual symptoms
Disease-modifying therapy to reduce number of relapses
Autologous haematopoietic stem cell transplant
There is also now a new treatment which can stop the progression of multiple sclerosis. It involves using chemotherapy to destroy the immune system, and then rebuilding it with stem cells harvested from the patient’s own blood, in the hope that it will produce a new healthy immune system which does not attack the CNS. Despite this, there are very high risks associated with this therapy, as it requires using toxic drugs in the chemotherapy which could have very harmful effects if procedure went wrong. However, in spite of the risks, a study carried out thirteen years ago has indicated that patients who underwent this therapy have experienced no long term effects and are now able to live normal lives free of multiple sclerosis.
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