History of Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) had already existed even during the Middle Ages when some writings were found containing a record about a patient who succumbed to “excruciating pain, blinding headaches, problems walking and paralysis”, descriptions which, doctors of the present believe, point to what is now called Multiple Sclerosis. The description did not have a name then, but a Dutch saint named Lidwina, who got worse after a fall and experienced remissions and eventually died in 1433, must have been one of the earliest sufferers of the disease. Another probable victim of the similarly unnamed disease was a grandson of King George III, who described his conditions in a diary he kept until his death in 1848.
It was in 1868 when the Multiple Sclerosis condition was identified as a disease. Dr. Jean-Martin Charcot, a professor of neurology at the University of Paris, who has been referred to as “the father of neurology” recorded as he examined a female young patient with this unusual combination of symptoms of the disease: she exhibited tremors he had never seen and other neurological conditions like slurred speech and abnormal eye movements. He tried several applications typical of neurological disorders on her, but failed. Thus, when the patient eventually died, he opened her brain and there discovered brain lesions, the characteristic scars or “plaques” of multiple sclerosis. Because of this findings, Dr. Charcot then called the disease sclerose en plaques.
Multiple Sclerosis was recognized as a specific disease in England by Dr. Moxon in 1873, and in the United States by Dr. Edward Seguin in 1878. Since then, the world came to learn much about multiple sclerosis. It specifically exhibited its salient characteristics, such as: that multiple sclerosis affects more women than men; that it is not a hereditary disease, and; that it is capable of generating many neurological symptoms.
In 1878, Dr. Loius-Antoine Ranvier, French pathologist and anatomist, discovered myelin sheath, although its significance was yet to be known.
In 1916, when doctors thought that multiple sclerosis was caused by a toxin or virus that entered into the brain through the bloodstream, Dr. James Dawson of the University of Edinburgh did a microscopic study on the brains of dead MS patients and was able to describe distinctly the inflammation around the blood vessels and the damage to myelin. n
In 1919, an abnormality in spinal fluid was discovered, but then again, its significance remained unknown.
Amid the disorder of World War II, the scientific community continued to search for cure of multiple sclerosis, that in 1943, the actual composition of myelin was determined.
In 1947, when doctors postulated on the findings that multiple sclerosis was due to blood flow problems, and as they were trying to stimulate circulation for treatment, a researcher at Columbia University discovered that MS patients had bizarre protein by-products in their cerebrospinal fluid. This eventually ushered to the present’s MS testing.
It was in 1960s when multiple sclerosis was declared an autoimmune disease which, in the following decade, ushered to a discovery of steroids to treat Multiple Sclerosis (MS) attacks. It was also during this period that scientists developed the first disease-defying agent.
Although, science has already accomplished much, since the Middle Ages, to find solutions to the problems of multiple sclerosis, studies still continue to discover a cure that would totally eradicated the disease. Let us just hope that with new technologies we may see victory soon.