Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Medical Reports: Multiple Sclerosis Breakthrough
Researchers at the University Of Miami have been credited with a "big breakthrough." Their find brings us one step closer to a cure for Multiple Sclerosis. Seven's Tom Haynes has details in this medical report.
WSVN -- The disease attacks the central nervous system.
To date, there has been no cure for MS, but, with this research, that may all change.
For Michael Myette the symptoms started in his 20s.
Michael Myette: "I was tripping a lot. I was falling down."
By age 40, Multiple Sclerosis had robbed him of life as he once knew it.
Michael Myette: "It has changed my life dramatically. I used to work and play and have a lot of tennis, and those kind of things I can't do anymore."
Like many patients with MS, he now walks with a cane to keep his balance and has trouble remembering things that used to come easy.
Michael Myette: "I do not work anymore. Part of my symptoms is cognitive, so I don't understand anything, and I don't remember as well as I used to."
MS is a crippling disease of the central nervous system where the immune system actually attacks the spinal cord and other areas.
There is no cure for it, and there hasn't been any new findings in more than 30 years.
Dr. Margaret Pericak-Vance, director of the Miami Institute for Human Genomics: "There hasn't been a major breakthrough since the 1970s, and it's been frustrating as a researcher and even more frustrating for patients."
But, in the biggest breakthrough yet, a group of researchers at the University of Miami and from all over the nation have found one common link to the disease.
Dr. Margaret Pericak-Vance: "What we found is a gene that is called IL7R that's involved in the immune system. If you have a form of this, it increases your risk to get MS."
Finding the gene is the first step. Now researchers must figure out how it works. That could lead them to a cure.
Dr. Margaret Pericak-Vance: "Perhaps, hopefully in the coming years, it will give us new insight into better targets for therapies and new drugs that can be developed."
It's a day that Michael is looking forward to.
Michael Myette: "Hopefully, one of these days, we'll be able to find out what causes this, and we'll be able to find a cure, so I keep hoping that tomorrow will be the day."
Researchers say just because you have the gene, it doesn't mean you'll get MS.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Dr. Margaret Pericak-Vance
Miller School of Medicine
1120 NW 14 Street, CRB-819 (M-860)
Miami, FL 33136
National Multiple Sclerosis Society-South Florida Chapter
1-800-FIGHT MS (800-344-4867)