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Living with multiple sclerosis (MS) poses daily challenges and frustrations. But recent advances offer hope and help for people coping with the unpredictability of the disease.

Dr. William Oliver Tobin

Neurologist, Mayo Clinic in Minnesota

“MS care has been revolutionized by safe and highly effective treatments for the inflammatory components of the disease,” said Mayo Clinic neurologist Dr. William Oliver Tobin. “If caught early enough, we can prevent disability for many patients with MS.”

The first step in preventing disability is early and accurate diagnosis. That can be difficult because the symptoms of MS are similar to symptoms of other autoimmune diseases.

Dr. Dean M. Wingerchuk

Neurologist, Mayo Clinic in Arizona

“Mayo Clinic offers a combination of neurological expertise and advanced technology that provides early and accurate diagnosis of MS and other diseases that can mimic it,” said Mayo Clinic neurologist Dr. Dean M. Wingerchuk.

Emerging discoveries

A new diagnostic test for MS is available, thanks to groundbreaking research at Mayo Clinic. Results of the cerebrospinal fluid test are available in about 20 minutes. The test measures immunoglobulin kappa free light chains rather than oligoclonal bands — the target of current gold standard testing.

The kappa free light chain test is especially helpful in cases where patients present with typical autoimmune neurology symptoms, but where the imaging tests are inconclusive. The test is also recommended for individuals in populations where MS is less common — for example, children, older people, and non-white populations.

Other efforts center on treatment. “The main focus of MS research at Mayo Clinic is curing progression and accumulated disability,” Dr. Tobin said.

Mayo Clinic researchers were the first to discover that a certain type of T cell (CD8) plays a critical role in causing nerve damage in MS. That discovery might lead to new drugs to slow or stop that nerve damage.

Additional research aims to help people with MS to manage their symptoms. A low-fat diet can be beneficial. Mayo Clinic laboratory studies have demonstrated that normalizing the enzyme levels disrupted by a high-fat diet can lead to enhanced myelin regeneration.

“People who are overweight have a higher chance of developing MS, and people who have MS and are overweight tend to have more active disease and a faster onset of progression,” Dr. Tobin said. “The main diet that has been shown to be neuroprotective is the Mediterranean diet. It’s high in fish, vegetables, and nuts, and low in red meat.”

Pediatric MS

Living with MS is particularly challenging for children. The disease is less common in children than in adults and can be especially difficult to diagnose.

Mayo Clinic’s Pediatric Multiple Sclerosis Center in Rochester, Minnesota is devoted to treating children with MS and is recognized as a Pediatric Network MS Center by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Dr. Vanessa V. Marin Collazo

Neurologist, Mayo Clinic in Florida

MS can affect multiple body systems. “It manifests with a wide range of symptoms, affecting both physical and mental health,” said Mayo Clinic neurologist Dr. Vanessa V. Marin Collazo.

Mayo Clinic’s care team includes not only subspecialized neurologists, but also physiatrists, urologists, psychiatrists and psychologists, and neuro-ophthalmologists, as needed.

“With the understanding that each patient with MS has their own journey with the disease, here at Mayo Clinic, our goal is to provide multidisciplinary care that meets patients’ needs,” Dr. Marin Collazo said.

Click here to learn more about care at Mayo Clinic

To make an appointment, please call:

Mayo Clinic in Minnesota: (507) 218-0129

Mayo Clinic in Arizona: (520) 352-7380

Mayo Clinic in Florida: (904) 820-2197

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