I intend this blog to be a mixture of my personal experiences with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and news related to MS. Hopefully, I can shed an optimistic light on MS even though it is difficult to be an optimist living with MS.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas!  Remember that this is a time to be with family and friends.  Also, while it is easy to get caught up in what we receive, the spirit of the season is giving.  Merry Christmas to all!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Sadness, Bacteria, and Spices

The past few days have been a struggle, but not because of MS.  On Friday, I learned that my grandmother had been taken to the hospital after suffering a heart attack and two brain bleeds.  My husband and I met my mom, dad, and aunt at the hospital and later learned that there was nothing that the doctors could do; they estimated that she would pass within 24 hours.  It was very difficult hearing that news.  My grandmother was a strong woman who always fought through everything and I was initially optimistic that she would fight through this as well; however, it turned out that it was her time.  We said our goodbyes and she passed away Saturday morning.  The weekend was a rough one with many tears and much sadness in my heart.  The funeral was scheduled for Wednesday with a viewing on Tuesday.  I went to work Monday in an attempt to keep my mind off of her death for one day before I took bereavement leave.  However, over my lunch hour, I found her obituary online.  At the end of the obituary, it stated that memorials could be made to her church or the National MS Society.  When I saw that last part, I assumed that the MS Society memorial was an idea of my mom's or something and thought it was a little much.  I inquired of my mom and learned that it was my grandmother's doing; apparently, this past summer, my grandmother had told her pastor that she wanted memorials to go to the MS Society.  When I learned that, I lost it at work; I couldn't believe that my having MS had affected her so much that she would make that request.  My grandmother was one incredibly amazing woman and nothing was more amazing than the immense love that she had for her family.  She will be missed very much, but she will forever be a part of me and she will live on in my heart; for that I am grateful.  I take comfort in knowing that she is in heaven and has been reunited with my grandfather and all those loved ones who went before her.  I think she was ready and I know she led a full life.  Her funeral, while sad, was truly a celebration of her life.  Tuesday and Wednesday was spent among family and it was nice to get together in remembrance.    

Enough of the sadness and onto the MS news . . . . From an MSF mailer:
Friendly Gut Bacteria May Play Role in Triggering MS

Researchers in Germany say they have found evidence that MS is triggered by natural intestinal flora, the so-called friendly bacteria that reside in the gut. Their study involved genetically engineered mice with normal gut bacteria that developed brain inflammation similar to MS in humans. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology in Martinsried in Munich, Germany published the results of their study in the journal Nature.
The human gut is home to some 100 billion bacteria from 2,000 different species, comprising 10 to 100 times more genes than in our entire genome. These microorganisms not only help us digest food, they are also essential for gut development. And they also play a role in promoting autoimmune disease, say the Max Planck researchers.
In the study, the genetically modified mice were allowed to continue with their normal gut bacteria intact. The intestinal flora were removed in the other mice and they were kept under sterile conditions. The mice that kept their gut bacteria developed MS-like symptoms.
According to the researchers, the bacteria first activated the immune T-cells, then the B-cells, which resulted in an attack on the myelin layer in the brain. The same could happen in humans with a corresponding genetic predisposition, they say.
In their background information, the Max Planck researchers refer to previous research that shows active MS lesions have "inflammatory changes suggestive of a combined attack by autoreactive T and B lymphocytes against brain white matter." (Lymphocytes are the white blood cells of the immune system).
They explain that T and B cells are normally innocuous members of a healthy immune system, but it appears something triggers them to become "autoaggressive"; the cause is commonly assumed to be environmental, with infection being the most common reason given.
One implication of this study is that nutrition may play a key role in the development of MS, since diet largely determines the types of bacteria that colonize the gut. The team now wants to investigate the complete microbial genomes of people with MS and compare them to people without MS.

Neuroprotective Qualities of Indian Spice Studied 

A compound found in saffron, a commonly used Indian spice, is being studied for its potential to help protect brain cells from being damaged in neurological disorders such as MS. Researchers at the University of Alberta in Canada who studied the ingredient, crocin, in lab models and cell cultures found that it appears to prevent damage to cells that make myelin in the brain.
The researchers detailed their study in The Journal of Immunology, noting that they are not yet close to a clinical trial stage. The team discovered that inflammation and a specific type of cell stress are closely linked and lead to inflammation and neurodegeneration, which cause cells to lose their protective coating – a process known as demyelination.
In experiments, they found the use of crocin suppressed both inflammation and this specific type of cell stress, resulting in decreased neurological impairment in lab models and cell cultures with MS.
"There are still many questions to be answered about how crocin exerts these neuroprotective effects, but this research highlights a potential treatment role for crocin in diseases involving chronic neuroinflammation – something that had not been recognized until now," the researchers stated.
Staying optimistic and intrigued by the constant research!  Thanks for reading!