« Man planned suicide, friend says | Main | Early Brain Changes in MS Revealed by New MRI Techniques »

Books on Health: Working the M.S. Puzzle

An Israeli writer once told Dr. Weiner that the disease he was studying, multiple sclerosis, was a monster.

"You cut it here, it grows there," the writer told the doctor. "You think it is down, but it rises again. You believe you understand why it behaves the way it does, but you are wrong."

M.S., the devastating, unpredictable and progressive disease of the nervous system, is the No. 1 cause of paralysis in young people, "the polio of our age," as Dr. Weiner, a professor of neurology at Harvard, puts it.

Literally translated, multiple sclerosis means "many scars," and although some of the half million Americans who are afflicted respond to drug treatment, Dr. Weiner writes, many do not.
In the disease, white blood cells called T cells go astray and attack protein structures in the sheath of myelin, which covers the nerve fibers in the brain and spinal cord.

Everyone has T cells that can cause M.S., but why they attack in some people and not in others is not known, Dr. Weiner writes, adding, "It probably relates to common viruses and how our immune system reacts to them." There is, he points out, "no evidence that M.S. is caused by a unique M.S. virus, and M.S. is probably not a single disease"
More here.

Buy the book here.

Another review here.

September 30, 2004 in Books | Permalink

Comments