Ms diseaseResearchers are currently cautiously optimistic about the disease multiple sclerosis. The risk of side effects from helping medications is becoming more manageable. But the disease is not yet curable.
Maria Eifrig was diagnosed with MS in her mid-40s.
Maria Eifrig has multiple sclerosis (MS). The 59-year-old programmer sits in a wheelchair. Spasticity jolts her body. At the age of 43 she got the diagnosis. By 2007, it was rapidly going downhill. The disease attacked her nervous and immune systems. But thanks to her electric wheelchair, she has become much more mobile. "I can stand up with him, I can even stand up. I even do sports with it", says Maria proudly.
By sport, however, she does not mean what healthy people do when jogging or playing soccer. Maria Eifrig straightens up with the help of her swiveling wheelchair. Moves as many muscle groups as possible. Maria beams. For them, even typing on the computer is training. Maria belongs to the MS self-help group in Munster.
200.000 MS sufferers in Germany
In the disease, parts of the nervous system in the spinal cord or brain become inflamed. In Germany, there are an estimated 200 people with MS.000 people suffering from MS. Hardly any case is the same as another, as experts will tell you on World MS Day on 27. May emphasize. "Most people think that MS automatically leads to a wheelchair, this is of course nonsense", says a visitor of the MS-Sunday-Cafe. A look around over coffee. Cake gives her right.
Christoph Carstensen, here with his son Ruben, leans on his cane – but he can also manage without it.
MS has the nickname "disease of 1000 faces. On this day, visitors came from all over Munsterland. Christoph Carstensen, 50, was diagnosed with the disease at the age of 27. Only if things go really badly will he end up in a wheelchair. He also uses a cane or rollator as a walking aid. But it also works without.
The crux of the matter with drugs
This is also proven by the medical history of Thomas Nienhaus. The 54-year-old has been living with the disease for 21 years. He has two relapses a year. But his therapy with interferon works well. That is for the physicians with MS always the crux. How does a remedy work? And if it works, what side effects can it have??
"We want to control this disease as best we can. But patients must decide for themselves whether they are willing to risk, for example, a fatal viral infection in the brain. The risk of this varies greatly and is between 1:100 and 1:10.000", says Prof. Heinz Wiendl of Munster University Hospital. Then the very effective therapy could end fatally. Reason: The drug weakens the immune system.
In his opinion, research is currently making great progress in this area in particular. "Using certain biomarkers in the blood, we can better assess a patient's risk", says Wiendl. This makes the question of which drug is right for which patient easier to answer. As a scientist and chairman of the Neuromedicine Foundation, he wants to drive this development forward.
"In 10, maybe 20 years we will be ready"
Thomas Nienhaus has lived with MS for 21 years.
"I decided to participate in a study more than 20 years ago. At that time, no one could tell me whether the drug would help", says Nienhaus. Today he knows that his decision was right. MS is not yet controllable. Neurologist Wiendl believes: "In 10, perhaps 20 years we are so far."
"The MS diagnosis has long since ceased to be a death sentence. New patients can be helped very efficiently and they can live with MS for a very long time", says Prof. Burkhard Becher of the University of Zurich. In his opinion, although research is very far away from a definitive cure for MS. He also sees no hope for the development of a vaccine. But it is clear that more than 100 identified MS risk genes are responsible for controlling the immune system. Therefore, the disease is primarily an immune disorder that leads to damage in the brain in the second step.
Comparison with caries
Burkhard Becher researches in Switzerland at the Institute for Experimental Immunology. Becher likes to use the image of caries. "When you go to the dentist, you haven't beaten tooth decay afterwards either. But the doctor could take away the pain with a treatment, in which he filled a hole with a substitute for example." This is also comparable with MS. The researcher describes the fact that patients no longer have to endure daily injections as in the past as a great step forward.
Effective medications are available today as tablets or monthly injections. "The future belongs to researchers who succeed in what is known as neuroprotection, i.e. when destroyed tie can be restored", says Becher. So far, however, this has not even been achieved to some extent. Becher warns against false hopes.