On Wednesday, December 21st, the Quarterly Review of Biology will publish "Multiple Sclerosis Is Not a Disease of the Immune System," by Dr. Angelique Corthals. It presents a revolutionary new framework for understanding the disease: MS is not an autoimmune disease, rather, it is caused by faulty lipid metabolism.
MS has been regarded as an autoimmune disease for decades. Billions of dollars have been spent on research depending on that premise. As a result, current treatments for MS are not particularly effective.
This paper explains why and, more importantly, offers a way forward.
I've been paying attention to research in the field since I was diagnosed with MS in 1993. I have a good understanding of the issues and a solid grasp of the scientific lexicon. Full disclosure: Dr. Corthals is a very good friend of mine and I've read every draft of this paper. I am fully convinced that her framework explains the contradictions that have puzzled researchers over the years, and answers their most frustrating questions*:
- Why does vitamin D play such an important role?
- How does diet affect the disease?
- Why do some studies suggest Epstein Barr (and other pathogens) trigger MS but other studies contradict this notion?
- How important is genetics in the development of MS?
- Can stress and physical trauma trigger the disease?
- Why are women more prone to MS than men?
- Why do drugs like statins sometimes seem to help MS?
This paper takes all the research of the last decade and fits it into a new pattern: a radical new understanding of MS.
However, it's an extremely technical paper, and long (70 pages--though 20 of them are the bibliography). So on Wednesday, when the article goes live**, I'll post a précis here that I hope will help readers grasp the essentials. (For those who know their PPARs from their peroxisomes, I recommend downloading the original.)
Angelique has given me permission to start discussing the paper before publication because it will have a powerful impact on people with MS and those who love us.
It takes a lot to move the needle of orthodoxy. Think of the MS ecosphere--people with MS, their loved ones, their doctors, their insurers, the pharmaceutical companies--as an ocean-going liner. It needs time to make a course correction. The sooner we start, the sooner we'll get the ship moving in the right direction and the sooner the right treatment will reach those who need it.
The odds are very good that you know someone with MS: there are more than 1.4 million of us (some estimates are much higher). For them--for us--I'd like you to help spread the word. If you know any media professionals (online, in print, on the airwaves), please point them to this post or the forthcoming Quarterly Review of Biology. Talk to your doctor. Talk to bloggers. Talk on Twitter. Just talk. Help move the needle. Think of it as a holiday gift to people with MS.
I'll be talking about this more fully on Wednesday.*** Angelique has also offered to answer questions then--or now, if you have them. Just drop a comment or send me email (see sidebar).
This paper doesn't offer a miracle cure. It doesn't offer an instant treatment. But it does point the way. Please help by pointing people you know to me or to Angelique (her contact info is on her website--the first address is best).
* All opinions in this blog post--and all the mistakes--are mine.