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June Halper Emphasizes the Lack of Understanding of Causes of Multiple Sclerosis

The cause of multiple sclerosis is not well understood. In fact, it’s not understood at all, explained June Halper, MSN, APN-C, MSCN, FAAN, chief executive officer, Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers.


The cause of multiple sclerosis is not well understood. In fact, it’s not understood at all, explained June Halper, MSN, APN-C, MSCN, FAAN, chief executive officer, Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers.

Has there been any recent progress in understanding causes behind multiple sclerosis?

The cause of MS [multiple sclerosis] is not well understood. In fact, it’s not understood at all. There are some theories that have popped up over the years. Many years ago they talked about a canine distemper virus. In other years, they talked about other problems like Esptein-Barr virus. But, so far nothing has been discovered that actually triggers off MS. More and more, investigators are looking into genetics. MS is not a hereditary disease, but it seems to occur more frequently in certain families. So, families are being studied. Certainly, genetic profiles are being studied. There’s a doctor, Sergio Baranzini, PhD, professor in residence of Neurology at the University of California, San Francisco Institute for Human Genetics, who just spoke at our annual meeting out in Seattle, who is doing a lot of interesting work in genetics. Probably in the next few years, we may start seeing more and more information about risks for MS—high risk versus low risk. Certain medications that might be more appropriate for someone based on a genetic profile.

We know that in people as they age in MS, things change. So, we’re not sure if the disease occurs later in life, will it be different than if it occurs in a child because there are pediatric MS cases now. I think with the technology we have and the wisdom that’s out there in the community, we will see some more answers, but right now, no, unfortunately.
 


 
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