Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic disease of the central nervous system which strikes without warning. Multiple Sclerosis can present with virtually any symptom, but typically blindness in one eye (optic neuritis), focal numbness, and focal weakness are the most common presenting symptoms. The term "focal" referrs to part of the body. Because it tends to strike people during their prime work years, it is a major cause of neurological disability costs to the United States.
The cause of MS is not clearly identified. What is known about MS is that women are affected more than men and caucasians more than other races. Interestingly, the chance of developing MS is dependent upon how far away from the equator one is born and raised for the first fifteen years of life. The further the distance, the higher the incidence of MS. The disease is felt to be principally autoimmune, meaning the body's immune system attacks itself. The latest theory for relapsing forms of MS is that the body is initially attacked by an infection which triggers T-cells to fight this infection. Unfortunately, some of these T-cells are also capable of attacking the central nervous system myelin and this mistaken attack is the principal cause of MS. Viruses implicated as this potential trigger include Epstien Barr Virus (EBV) and Human Herpes Virus - 6 (HHV-6).
The pages on this website covers the practical aspects of how neurologists make the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, how acute attacks are treated, and what can be done to prevent further attacks and deterioration of the patients' clinical condition. Dr. Loftus is the principal investigator for a novel approach to treating relapsing forms of MS with a therapy known as T-cell vaccination or Tovaxin.