Multiple Sclerosis is an autoimmune disease where the myelin sheaths covering nerve endings are destroyed by the body because it incorrectly identifies them as a foreign tissue. The myelin tissue is necessary to conduct signals throughout the nervous system and when they are destroyed, the body cannot properly receive those signals, leading to decreased muscle coordination, numbness, tingling, weakness, and loss of balance. The United States and Germany joined together in a recent medical study to test whether it is possible in patients with MS to train the immune system to recognize its own nerve tissue and avoid destroying it. The study involved filtering the patients' blood and harvesting the white blood cells in order to collect them and combine them with myelin tissue proteins. The cells were then reintroduced into the patients' bloodstream with the intention that the body would recognize the newly attached proteins as harmless and would not destroy the tissue. The results were mixed, with some patients experiencing worsening symptoms after the initial treatment. However, the patients with mild MS symptom activity prior to treatment showed almost no indication of MS symptoms or inflammation even months after the treatment. More in-depth studies are required before doctors can be sure of the future of this therapy, but it is the first of its kind and further research may prove very beneficial to MS patients.
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