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New MS studies unveiled at Paris meeting

Two reports from the multiple sclerosis get-together in Paris, held last week, caught my attention.

The session was a joint meeting of ECTRIMS and ACTRIMS, the European and Americas Committees for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis.

Both items from Paris are of special interest to me, as I have personal experience of them.

ParisThe first is news that, after the first round of symptoms, multiple sclerosis can stay mild without causing major problems for decades. This has been uncovered by a 30-year British study.

The second is research that shows that two things appear to increase the risk of MS, independent of each other. One is a strong immune reaction to an Epstein-Barr virus infection while the other is low levels of vitamin D.

My own experience of life with MS includes initial symptoms in the mid-1980s. Diagnosis of ‘benign’ MS followed in 2002, and it was another 10 years before the onset of major problems. They have since progressed.

That’s a period of more than three decades.

I had a brush with EBV, contrcti.ng glandular fever, otherwise called mononucleosis, in my early 20s, and was found the be deficient in vitamin D a year ago.

Paris: Research studies

In Paris, Karen K. Chung of the University College London Institute of Neurology discussed “Does ‘benign’ multiple sclerosis exist? A 30-year follow-up study of people presenting with clinically isolated syndrome”.

Scientists refer to cases with no apparent impairment of the nervous system as benign MS. Despite this, the exact definition is still undecided and, in fact, some researchers argue that benign MS does not exist.

As far as EBV and vitamin D are concerned, researchers from Finland and the USA studied the two risk factors in pregnant women who later developed MS.

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