Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease of the central nervous system estimated to affect 2.5 million people worldwide. In the US there are about 400,000 people living with MS. It is a chronic disease in which the immune system goes out of whack and attacks the insulation and support around the nerve cells (myelin sheath) in the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves, causing inflammation and consequent damage. There is no cure for MS.
The brain works by allowing nerve cells to communicate with each other throughout the central nervous system. It's this superhighway of connection and communication that is disrupted in MS. When the nerves cannot send or receive messages, body function decreases. MS is usually diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 40. There are two types, relapsing and remitting where symptoms come and go and primary progressive where the patient declines steadily as the disease takes hold. It's a devastating diagnosis, and it's not well understood, but research is going on every day, and perhaps soon there could be a better way treat patients.