A cure would stop MS in its tracks, prevent new symptoms, stop - not just slow - progression, and hopefully even reverse damage. There are four basic types of MS with all kinds of variations, and a real MS cure would address all of them. That is an ambitious goal. So are we close to a cure?
Dr. Jean Martin Charcot identified and defined multiple sclerosis as a disease in 1868. The first effective pharmaceutical treatment was not available until 1992, 124 years later. Now, just 20 years after the first drug, we have options including oral applications as well as many clinical trials developing even more. All of these drugs are intended to reduce the number of attacks, often up to 50%, and to slow progression, but there is not yet a valid measurement for progression. This sounds like a great treatment, but not quite a cure. More research is underway.
Based on tests using mice, the answer to a cure may well be found in genetics. Just a few months ago, I explored the question: Is MS Hereditary? The answer seems to be yes, and some specific relevant genes and genomes have already been identified. This information leads to exciting research projects based on the idea that one key to a cure is indeed genetics.
Then there are other exciting possibilities: CSVII. stem cells, and even repairing damaged myelin. Is there a possibility for a cure here?
Dr. Paolo Zamboni has developed an amazing treatment that has been touted as a possible cure. MSers flocked to treatment centers to take advantage of this "cure."
His wife Elena developed MS in 1995, inspiring Zamboni, a vascular surgeon, to research the disease. He found a vascular condition he thinks may be one cause of MS. It is my understanding that although MS is not a vascular disease, this treatment does make some people feel much better, and for some it actually eliminates new symptoms for years. But it is not a cure.
Until more trials are completed, perhaps we should have cautious optimism for Dr. Zomboni's treatment. He joins the National MS Society in encouraging MSers to continue their current treatment until CCSVI has been proven beyond doubt.
Remember how MSers anticipated stem cell therapy? A small trial in Chicago tested 23 men and women with early RRMS who did not respond after six months of using interferon beta. Tests took stem cells from the patient's own fat tissue or bone marrow. Three years after transplantation, 17 had improved by at least one point on the disability scale while none had deteriorated. That sounds like promising results to me, even for such a small trial. It won't be a true cure until it also addresses MS types beyond early RRMS. A larger trial for this one-time transplantation of stem cells is underway.
The idea here is not only to stop it from happening again, but also to reverse damage already done. The Mayo Clinic is collaborating with international groups to identify and promote natural repair. There are two laboratories, one working with animal models and the other studying human pathologies, developing therapies to restore myelin. Because it is natural, there are almost no side effects. That sounds good, but no cure here either.
There are many claims for MS cures. Be wary of these false claims. When you hear something, talk with your doctor or check with an organization like the National MS Society or maybe the MS International Federation to see if it is valid. One day soon, it really will be.
It sounds as if a cure is just around the corner. Remember, there is always hope.
Once you choose hope, anything's possible. ~ Christopher Reeve