This Neurologist is Committed to Developing New Therapies for Multiple Sclerosis, but Challenges Lie Ahead

According to a story from CityScene, Ohio State University’s Dr. Michael Racke is considered one of the country’s cutting edge researchers in the field of multiple sclerosis treatment. He is currently working on the development of new therapeutic approaches to treating the disease, but achieving this goal won’t be simple. The nature of multiple sclerosis means that there are a number of factors that must be taken into account when trying to develop a new treatment.

About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is a neurological disease which is characterized by damage to the myelin sheath, a fatty, insulating, protective covering that surrounds nerve cells and allows them to communicate effectively. Although a precise cause has not been determined, multiple sclerosis is considered an autoimmune disease, in which a certain trigger, such as an infection, may cause the immune system to mistakenly attack healthy tissue. Smoking and certain genetic variants are also considered risk factors for the disease. Symptoms include blurred vision, double vision, blindness in one eye, numbness, abnormal sensations, pain, muscle weakness, muscle spasms, difficulty speaking and swallowing, mood instability, depression, loss of coordination, and fatigue. There are a number of treatments available for the disease, but no cure. Life expectancy for patients is slightly reduced. To learn more about multiple sclerosis, click here.

Treating Multiple Sclerosis

A major challenge in treating multiple sclerosis is the fact that the spinal cord and brain have very little ability to recover following damage or injury, and these areas are absolutely affected by the disease. With this in mind, the goal of multiple sclerosis treatment is often the slowing or prevention of disease progression. While such an approach is useful for many patients as long as they receive timely treatment, patients who are already suffering from a degree of disability have very little chance of improving.

There are a number of therapies available for the relapsing-remitting form of multiple sclerosis, which is the most common form. However, most of these therapies, while usually effective, do carry some risk of side effects, particularly with regard to immune system function. 

More recently, Dr. Racke presented at the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers, which was held in New Orleans this year. His presentation was focused on autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplants as a treatment for multiple sclerosis. Dr. Racke will be the protocol chair for a new trial that will compare the impact of this approach to the most powerful treatments currently available for the disease.

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