Multiple sclerosis is a confusing disease. Widely regarded as an autoimmune problem, it affects millions of sufferers, and we still don't have a complete grasp of what causes it. Part of this problem is due to the fact that every time we find something that seems to be a factor in how it works, that factor doesn't seem universal.
But now there's a new theory of MS that could lead to a radically different treatment for the disease.
Top image: Random 42 Medical Animation.
A new meta-analysis by Dr. Angélique Corthals proposes that much of the difficulty we have with understanding the causes of MS may be because we're wrong about its basic mechanism. In a publication in The Quarterly Review of Biology, she proposes that rather than an autoimmune disease like previously supposed, MS might in fact be a metabolic one with an immune component.
It's a bold assertion to be sure, and one without original data to back it up (at this point, anyway). With MS, the myelin which protects and insulated the nerve tissue on your brain and spinal cord swells, and then scars, leading to neuronal damage. Corthals' theory gives another framework to approach this damage, and one with links to a disease we do understand — atherosclerosis.