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Multiple Sclerosis: A Misguided Immune Attack On Myelin: Shots



A scanning electron micrograph shows microglial cells (yellow) ingesting branched oligodendrocyte cells (purple), and a process thought to occur in multiple sclerosis. Oligodendrocytes form insulating myelin sheaths around the nervous axons in the central nervous system.
                
                

Dr. John Zajicek / Science Source
                    


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John Zajicek / Science Source
        

A scanning electron micrograph shows microglial cells (yellow) ingesting branched oligodendrocyte cells (purple), and a process thought to occur in multiple sclerosis. Oligodendrocytes form insulating myelin sheaths around nervous axons in the central nervous system



John Zajicek / Science Source
            

As the story goes, nearly 80 years ago on the Faroe Islands – a stark North Atlantic archipelago 200 miles off the coast of Scotland – and the neurological epidemic may have washed or rather convoyed, of multiple sclerosis on the Faroes was near, if not, zero, according to the tantalizing lore I recall from the medical school. Yet in the years following the British occupation of the islands during World War II, the rate of MS rose dramatically, leading many researchers to assume that the outbreak was caused by some unknown germs transmitted by foreign soldiers

We now know that MS is not infectious in the true sense of the word. It is not contagious in the way, say, the flu is.

But infection probably plays a role in MS.

As can be the case in Alzheimer's disease, it is more and more like MS strikes when infectious, genetic and immune factors gang up to eventually impair the function of neurons in the brain and spinal cord. Researchers are hoping to better understand this network of influences to develop more effective ways to treat MS, and perhaps prevent it in the first place.


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