Can J Neurol Sci. 2004 Feb;31(1):37-47
Royal College of Physicians of London, London, UK.
Susceptibility to multiple sclerosis is influenced by several genes which are relatively common in populations of European origin.
Their precise identification is currently being intensively investigated.
The pathophysiology of the main clinical features is better understood.
Relapse results from abnormalities of conduction to which both demyelination and inflammation contribute.
At the membrane level, remission depends on the formation of new sodium channels which restore conduction even in persistently demyelinated axons.
Remyelination presumably contributes and synaptic reorganisation may also do so.
Axonal degeneration contributes to irrecoverable deficit and progression of disability.
These observations suggest new therapeutic strategies.
The management of multiple sclerosis needs to be improved.
Progress requires an ethically based partnership between patients, whose needs are paramount, the research and caring communities and the pharmaceutical industry.