MS AND A NEW ZIKA STUDY

An odd shaped cloud on a clear day.

One lonely cloud!

New research suggests another serious neurological condition can be added to the list of those connected to Zika virus infection. According to a small study, the mosquito-borne illness could cause an autoimmune condition known as acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM), which shares some traits with multiple sclerosis. The researchers will present their findings this week at the American Academy of Neurology’s 68th Annual Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia.

The small study involved six patients admitted to the emergency room and neurology outpatient department at Hospital da Restauração in Pernambuco, Brazil. Each had fever and rash, symptoms common in people stricken by the Zika virus and other mosquito-borne illnesses. Some patients in the study also developed severe itching, muscle and joint pain and red eyes, which are also symptoms of a Zika infection. All six patients tested positive for the Zika virus. The doctors ruled out other mosquito-borne viruses, including dengue and chikungunya.

The patients began to experience neurological symptoms, such as numbness and weakness in the extremities and headaches, either right away or within 15 days after presenting with signs of an acute Zika infection. Physicians diagnosed two of the patients with ADEM, which occurs when a person’s immune system launches an attack on the myelin sheaths that surround the nerve fibers of the brain and spinal cord. This leads to severe inflammation, similar to MS. However, MS is a relapsing-remitting illness, while ADEM flares typically occur just once and a person should have a full recover within a few months. Brain scans of patients diagnosed with ADEM detected lesions in the brain’s white matter, which indicate damage to myelin.

The Study referenced above came straight out of Newsweek Magazine!

More bits and pieces about Zika!

Zika is a blood to blood pathogen that can be carried by certain kinds of mosquitoes. It can also be transferred through sexual contact and by drug users sharing the same needle. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends using only one of four mosquito-repelling ingredients: DEET, Picaridin, IR3535, and oil of Lemon Eucalyptus as insect repellent for these kinds of mosquitoes.

Doctors are also recommending that women who have had Zika wait for at least two years before trying to become pregnant. And disease specialists in Brazil are saying that Zika may also be causing a recent surge in another rare condition Guillain-Barre syndrome which has also been suspected as a possible cause for multiple sclerosis!

Bill Walker  

MS and Viagra as a Treatment

   

A picture of me.

That would be me!

     I was reading another site and was stunned to read that researchers are studying Viagra as a treatment for Multiple Sclerosis. The following is what I found in a internet search and I’m still a bit surprised since this is the first I’ve heard of it.

Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona researchers have discovered that Viagra®  (sildenafil) drastically reduces multiple sclerosis symptoms in animal models with the disease. The research, published in Acta Neuropathologica, demonstrates that a practically complete recovery occurs in 50% of the animals after eight days of treatment. Researchers are confident that clinical trials soon will be carried out in patients given that the drug is well tolerated and has been used to treat sexual dysfunction in some multiple sclerosis patients.

Multiple sclerosis is the most common chronic inflammatory disease of the central nervous system and one of the main causes of disability among young adults. The disease is caused by the presence of multiple focuses of demyelination (loss of myelin sheaths around the axons, affecting the ability of neurons to communicate) and neurodegeneration in different areas of the central nervous system. There is currently no cure for the disease, although some drugs have proven effective in fighting symptoms and preventing it from progressing.

A research team from the UAB Institute of Biotechnology and Biomedicine directed by Dr Agustina García, in collaboration with the research team directed by Dr Juan Hidalgo from the UAB Institute of Neurosciences, has studied the effects of a treatment using sildenafil, sold as Viagra®, in an animal model of multiple sclerosis known as experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). Researchers demonstrated that a daily treatment with sildenafil after disease onset quickly reduced clinical signs, with a practically complete recovery in 50% of the cases after eight days of treatment. Scientists observed how the drug reduced the infiltration of inflammatory cells into the white matter of the spinal cord, thus reducing damage to the nerve cell’s axon and facilitating myelin repair.

Sidenafil, together with tadalafil (Cialis®) and vardenafil (Levitra®), form part of a group of vasodilator drugs known as phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) inhibitors, used in the treatment of erectile dysfunction and pulmonary arterial hypertension. Recent studies in animal models of central nervous system pathologies already pointed to the fact that in addition to vasodilation, these drugs could contain other neuroprotective actions and suggest their usefulness as possible treatments of both acute (cerebrovascular stroke) and chronic (Alzheimer’s) neuropathologies.  Research published in 2010 in theJournal of Neurochemistry by the same research group from UAB demonstrated that one of these inhibitors reduced neuroinflammation and neuronal damage in animal models of traumatic brain injury.

MS and a Letter From A Reader

Almost the top of Mount Baker

At nearly the top of Mount Baker, WA.

Hi Bill,

Love reading your blog.  I wanted to reach out to you to see if you know about the latest treatment option for Upper Limb Spasticity (ULS)  a side effect many people who suffer from MS deal with.

 

ULS can occur weeks, months or years after being diagnosed with MS, and can make it challenging to do day-to-day activities, like getting dressed or putting on deodorant.  People with upper limb spasticity may have rotated shoulders, flexed elbows, wrists, and clenched fists. Due to upper limb spasticity, arms become tight and are forced up against the body and uncontrollable muscle movements or spasms occur at inopportune moments. The muscles in the elbow, wrist and fingers are uncomfortably tight and stiff.

Now, there’s a new treatment option for Adult Upper Limb Spasticity.  Xeomin® (incobotulinumtoxinA) was recently approved by the FDA for use in adult patients suffering from ULS.  In clinical studies, treatment with Xeomin for adult ULS resulted in statistically significant clinical improvements in muscle tone, with a safety profile similar to that observed for other Xeomin indications.

We’d love to connect you with a national or local medical expert who can explain the impact of ULS in more detail and how Xeomin works in adult ULS.

Best,

Katherine

MS and Spring Allergies

    Tree just blooming in Spring I have a friend who has Rheumatoid Arthritis and one day she asked her Doctor what he thought RA was other than just another autoimmune disease? His answer intrigued her and I thought I would share it here. He said that he believed it was an inside out allergy meaning obviously that the allergic reaction was happening on the inside of the body instead of on the outside where many allergic reactions and symptoms are first noticed taking place. That was many years ago and I obviously have not forgotten it. But the reason I haven’t forgotten it is because every spring I get a reminder of that long ago conversation.

     Even before I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and almost every spring since, with this one being no exception, just as the trees start their yearly pollen assault upon the unsuspecting sinuses of many humans, is when I get my worst flare up of MS related symptoms. That’s not to say that I’ve never had a flare up at other times of the year but it almost always seems that my springtime MS attacks coincide with the increase in tree pollen in the air.

     I do realize that multiple sclerosis is a very complicated disease and may have absolutely nothing to do with pollen but it just seems strange, that in my case at least, my worst attacks always seem to happen in early spring. With all of that in mind I was just wondering if anyone else has noticed any patterns with their own disease progression or response over the years since they were diagnosed?

 

Bill Walker

Multiple Sclerosis Hypertension and Now Pre-Diabetic

    Cow Painting Ever since I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis back in 2000 my blood pressure has slowly crept up to a point where it was really starting to bother both myself and my family doctor. At first I was prescribed low doses of something that I don’t recall the name of but it made me cough to the point where it had to be changed to Losartan Potassium. And at first this seemed to bring my BP down to a more reasonable level. But it didn’t take long until the dose had to be doubled to 50mg and then doubled again to a 100mg which is where I’m at now and it still doesn’t seem to be enough to lower my blood pressure down to a safer level.

     I think my doctor might also be starting to get concerned with this because he ordered a complete blood work up to see if something else may be causing my higher pressure levels. However as the results are now back they are all, for the post part, in the normal range with one exception. My glucose levels were high enough for my doctor to announce that I am now pretty much pre-diabetic.

     In one respect this does not come as to much of a shock to me as just about everyone on both sides of my family are also either diabetic or like me, at some early stage of becoming diabetic. But in another respect I remember reading early on after my MS diagnosis that people who became diabetic rarely developed multiple sclerosis and vice versus as well. Another myth bites the dust.

     There is a bright side to this diagnosis that if I watch my weight and my diet I should never develop full blown diabetes. Unfortunately this still doesn’t explain the hypertension. His guess is a combination of stress related factors along with the fact that I really don’t get enough exercise being at least part of the problem. And he stated that higher BP is somewhat common for people with MS. I do try and exercise as much as I can but it tires me out at a pretty fast rate and I live in a place where it rains a lot which also makes getting out more of a problem. And telling me that I am now one step closer to being diabetic certainly doesn’t help reduce any stress that I may be experiencing.

     I have another appointment in a couple of weeks so I won’t know until then whether we are going to increase my current BP drug or try something new. Which means for now, the mystery continues!

 

Bill Walker

MS and Simple Memory Boosting Ideas

     Mailbox Numbers Unfortunately MS robs many of us of our physical ability to stay active and keep a more normal blood flow to the brain which in turn affects our ability to remember the simplest of things sometimes. One way of stimulating all of those little nerve bundles up in our heads is by reading and writing which many of us do now on a daily basis even if it was something that we didn’t enjoy all that much pre-multiple sclerosis.

     However there are a couple of other little tricks that forces your brain to reset its ability to recall information on a daily basis. But first, here’s a very short but amusing story that gets us started.

     The other day I asked my twenty three year old Niece how many passwords she had because of all the social media and other things that her generation has to keep abreast of on any given day? Her answer certainly surprised me, “Two.” And I would imagine that is probably the same answer that you would get from almost any Millennial. And now, you too, know their secret of living in a password protected world.

     In my case I have at least ten that I can think of off the top of my head and it’s not just because I am old and terrified of someone hacking my personal information. I have them all because it forces me to recall them each to the appropriate site that I am visiting or using at that particular moment. Oh yes, I have my own version of a little black book that I can pull out and search if the brain fog is just to thick to get through, but I have found that by doing this those moments of staring at a blank screen with a blank mind have been fewer and fewer as the years have passed.

     And I have another mind game I play when I’m either riding or driving in my car if I want to wake my brain up from a multiple sclerosis haze. Every time I pass a set of numbers like on a mailbox I’ll add them up until I get the smallest domination. For instance: 7324 would be 7+3+2+4 which would equal 16 and then 1+6 would equal 7. You can also do it with subtraction 7-3-2-4 would equal negative 2. And if you get really bored of that you can also multiply instead 7x3x2x4 would equal 168 and then you could also add and/or subtract from that point as well.

     The whole idea is to keep your mind active and refuse to let MS clog the pathways of your brain. And I’ve become so used to doing this that I can do it easily even with the radio is on while also paying attention to the road around me while I’m driving. However, I don’t do it if I have a passenger.

     And I’m sure I’m not the only one who has these little brain teasers to keep a clear and healthy mind, what are some of your ways of keeping all of the neurons firing in the proper order?

 

Bill Walker

MS and The Day I Met, LL Cool J

    As you wake up on any given day you can never be to sure what surprising thing may lie just ahead of you.  Back in the early nineties a friend of mine, Julie Burton, now a singer song writer in Nashville Tenn., asked me if I would be interested in being a roadie for a day as she and her band showcased for some of the largest record companies in the world.  It didn’t take a genius to figure out that this was something extraordinary that I would probably never get a second chance to do again so I jumped at the offer.

     The first big surprise of the day came as we rolled into New York City in search of the studio where the showcase was to take place.  I expected some high rise palace where no expense had been spared to attract the upper royalty of the music industry.  What I got was a nondescript building on this out of the way alley that no one would have ever suspected to harbor the megastars of music as they prepared for world tours or whatever.  And once inside this cold cement fortress it was anything but what you would think a multi-platinum millionaire would spend time at during rehearsals. 

     After checking in which required passing thru two heavily locked and secured sets of doors we were ushered into studio B of a triplex of studios that surrounded a common room that was even more unimpressive then the building itself.  The furniture, what there was of it, appeared to have come straight out of someone’s basement or the nearest second hand store.  Otherwise, it was clean, but that was the best I could say for it.   

     After setup, and during sound checks of which I was absolutely no help, I decided to take a book that I had brought along and take a break out in the common area while I waited for the first of two showcases to take place.  As I entered the common room I soon realized that I wasn’t the only person who had the same idea.  And I found my day suddenly brightening beyond all expectations.  Let’s just say that I instantly fell in love with my new reading partner but that’s another story.  In no time at all I was engaged in a conversation with a woman who if memory serves me right which it probably doesn’t, remember this was twenty some years ago, was named Christine or Christina.  And she told me that she was a dancer with LL Cool J.

     I replied, “LL who?”

     She said, “LL Cool J, we’re rehearsing for a tour in studio C.”

     I confessed that I was surprised because the guys that I had come with all said that LL Bean was in studio C.  And yes, I was really that naïve about Rap and Rap Musicians back in those days.   When Christine stopped laughing, and believe me she was bust a gut laughing, she took pity on my lack of knowledge and explained that my friends had played a huge joke on me.  And she went on to tell me a little about her story and how she had managed to become a dancer with LL Cool J.  And not long after this I had to return to studio B for Julie’s first showcase.

     When I next emerged at the conclusion of the showcase I was extremely pleased to see that Christine was still sitting in the common room.  I could have talked to her all day if I had the chance.  However, this time she wasn’t alone.  LL Cool J’s entire band, as well as his manager, were all taking a break. 

     Christine looked up and smiled as she said, “This is Bill, the guy who thought we were all a part of The LL Bean Band.”  They all laughed as I looked for the nearest couch that I could climb under to hide. 

     It was LL’s manager who decided that it might be best if he taught me a little bit about the culture and inspirations behind Rap Music.  I guess he genuinely did not want me to ever be so humiliated again so he spent the next fifteen to twenty minutes laying out how intricate the underlying messages really were.  Christine, as well as the rest of the band, were all great throwing in little bits of information here and there. 

     And then it happened!  The door to studio C opened and a very big guy, LL Cool J is a lot bigger then most people probably realize when you see him in person and up close, and this mountain of a man who I realized had to be a body guard emerged.  After a moment I heard LL Cool J’s manager speak up.  “Hey LL, this is Bill the guy we told you about.”

     I was glad that he left out the LL Bean part but I realized that was my queue, “Hi, it’s really nice to meet you, especially after making such a fool out of myself.”

     To which Mr. Cool J replied, “Eh!”

     And that was it my entire earth shattering conversation with the man himself.  It was a moment that he probably had forgotten by the time the door to studio C once again closed but one that I’ll never forget.

     And then I had to go back for Julie’s second showcase and I never saw Christine or the band the rest of that afternoon.  Christine, I might not have your name right, but I will never forget the short time I got to spend with you!  And without you, I probably would never have met LL Cool J.  Cheers, and thank you, where ever you are these days?

     And Julie, the biggest thank you goes to you.  The only thing that could have made this day even more special would have been if you had been signed by a major label.  Thanks for this cherished memory!

Bill Walker