GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A neurologist from Corewell Health joined News 8 to discuss research about multiple sclerosis on World MS Day.
“(MS is) an immune-mediated disease, meaning it’s caused by misbehavior of our immune system, which usually is designed to fight bacteria and viruses,” Dr. Nick Lannen said. “But in the case of multiple sclerosis, (the immune system) becomes misdirected and misbehaves.”
As a result, MS causes injury to the central nervous system, which consists of the brain, the spinal cord and the nerve to the eye, Lannen told News 8.
Because injuries can happen in several different areas across the central nervous system, MS symptoms can look different from patient to patient.
“Everyone’s symptoms are so variable, depending on where the brain or the spinal cord gets injured,” Lannen said. A spinal cord injury might cause motor symptoms like weakness, for instance, while brain lesions could harm processing speed.
He told News 8 that MS treatment is multifaceted and might include medication, physical therapy and social support.
Lannen called MS a “success area in neurology.”
“We’ve had really good success in finding — I don’t want to say cures, but very effective medicines to keep the disease at bay,” he said.
Currently, researchers are working to understand what triggers MS, according to Lannen.
“We know that it’s a condition that happens to genetically susceptible people that have the wrong environmental exposures,” he said.
Lannen told News 8 that researchers have found a link between Epstein-Barr virus, which is associated with mononucleosis, and later development of MS.