CORNWALL, Ontario – Local advocates of multiple sclerosis patients are heralding news that a breakthrough in research could one day see the disease treated before symptoms surface.
Karen Torrie-Racine, volunteer office manager at the MS Society of Canada’s local office was thrilled to learn that Canadian researchers have found a genetic link to multiple sclerosis, which would alert doctors early on to the fact that an individual is likely to develop the disease.
Doctors told CTV News such a discovery in a patient would mean reams of drugs could be administered early on to such a patient, potentially extending their life.
“Ultimately we’d like to get a cure, but if we can slow down the disease…many other people can be helped,” said Torrie-Racine, herself an MS patient for more than 30 years.
The research uncovered this week deals specifically with primary-progressive MS – a condition not unlike ALS that can quickly overwhelm a patient with neurological symptoms that lead to death.
Torrie-Racine grapples with relapsing-remitting MS, a condition that flares up from time to time but has been more effectively treated with medication.
“Many of our clients have passed away because they have had primary progressive. You never get a relapse, you just continue to get worse,” she said. “There wasn’t a lot out there, but now there is some hopeful stuff.”
CTV News reported that while only one in 1,000 MS patients have the mutation in their DNA, its identification will help reveal the biological pathways that lead to the most serious form of the disease, and aid the development of new treatments that target its cause rather than its symptoms.
This country has the highest rate of the MS, with about 100,000 Canadians living with the auto-immune affliction.