Multiple sclerosis is a debilitating disease that often strikes its victims in the prime of life. Some MS patients have
learned to manage the disease and live well with it. But for others multiple sclerosis can be devastating. In this program we meet Joa
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Female Speaker: At age 36 Julian Wilson has her hands full as a fulltime mom.
Female Speaker: I have three kids 4, 2 and 10 months old.
Female Speaker: Caring for three young children can be a challenge in itself but Julian is also coping with multiple sclerosis she was diagnosed in her early 20s.
Female Speaker: I had had trouble swallowing and then my hand went, its not paralyzed but it just really weak, can't use it, I can't write with the pen.
Female Speaker: In people with multiple sclerosis the body's immune system attacks the nerves that carry messages through the brain and spinal cord.
Randall Schapiro: Just like an electric wire insulated with rubber. These nerves are insulated with a fat, the fat is called myelin and the myelin quotes the nerves and allows the electric signal move very, very rapidly.
Female Speaker: In multiple sclerosis when the attack goes on it breaks down the insulation around the nerves and then you loose the electrical signal.
Randall Schapiro: Depending upon how much you lose and where you that lose symptoms. So if you lose myelin in the part of the brain or its connections that control strength you get weakness. If you lose it in a part that controls coordination you get clumsiness, if you lose it in a part that control sensation you'll get numbness.
Female Speaker: I'm numbed from here down I can't do anything anymore that I used to doing, that's a shock to me.
Female Speaker: Well, there is currently no cure for MS. Medical breakthroughs are offering patients a new line of defense.
Male Speaker: We have treatments today that can change the course of disease for almost everyone who has multiple sclerosis.
Female Speaker: Doctor say the greatest promise lies in disease modifying drugs which discourage key players in the immune system known as T-cells from acting up.
Sylvia Lucas: In the bottom line is that you don't want T-cells to attack the lining around the nerves. Because T-cells are really the attack coordinators if you will so they are calling a lot of other cells to destroy and mop up.
Kathleen Costello: Any damage that's already occurred within the central nervous system can't be fixed by these drugs. But what can be done is they can reduce the number of relapses and they can delay the amount of disability that's someone may accumulate over the years of the disease.
Female Speaker: Reducing the number of attacks may also give the nervous system breathing room to repair itself.
Male Speaker: People can get better they can heal themselves, their body can do that.
Female Speaker: My fatigue is better and my balance is better. And they read that my vision it suppose to get better but it haven't yet, so --
Sylvia Lucas: Before the onset of disease modifying therapies, we expected just about 50% of people 10 15 years after their diagnosis to need some sort of help with walking. So they might need a cane, or a walker, or a wheelchair but the disease modifying therapies have really pushed this off.
Randall Schapiro: Our MS centre is now 30 years old and the changes that I've seen have been just unbelievable. The prognosis for MS is dramatically different today.