MS News That Caught My Eye Last Week: Fatigue, Myelin, Gut Microbes, Bots Promoting Shots

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by Ed Tobias |

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Fatigue Prevalence Remains High in MS Patients

Is this a surprise to anyone who has lived with MS for any period of time? Over the many years since my diagnosis, fatigue has been my second most bothersome symptom. (Trouble walking is the first.) In this survey, researchers write that contrary to what was expected, they “found that the prevalence of fatigue is high in contemporary patients with MS despite the advances that have been made in diagnostics and treatments over the past 20 years.” Yes, there are treatments, but they haven’t seemed to help very much. Would you agree?

The prevalence of fatigue continues to be high among people with multiple sclerosis (MS) despite significant progress over the years in therapies that change the course of the disease, a large survey study in Norway found.

The findings also show that the frequency of fatigue is higher in women and associated with anxiety, depression, and daytime sleepiness.

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New 3D Model May Help in Promoting Myelin, Preventing Its Loss

This looks like a very cool scientific tool that might lead to a fix for our short-circuited nervous systems one day. These scientists have created a model that mimics spinal cord tissue. Using it, they’ve been able to produce myelin, which has coated neurons. They’ve also been able to create demyelination, similar to what MS does to our nerves. Let’s hope this model can give a leg up to other research of methods to repair our central nervous system.

A new 3D model of the human nervous system is meant to mimic key processes in the development of the myelin sheath — the fatty coating around nerve cells that is damaged in multiple sclerosis (MS) — to help with research into treatments that promote myelination.

This model might also be useful in preventing demyelination, or the loss of the protective myelin sheath, its researchers noted.

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Lower Intestinal Fatty Acids May Contribute to MS in Women

Several studies in recent years have focused on the role microbes in your gut play in regards to MS. But this is the first study I’ve seen linking the action of these microbes to women being more likely than men to have MS. Unanswered by this study, however, is a reason that women have a different level of these immune-suppressing fat molecules.

Certain fat molecules produced by gut microbes, which have protective immune-suppressing effects and may protect against multiple sclerosis (MS), are lower in women than in men, a case-control study has found.

These findings may explain the greater MS susceptibility observed in women, the scientists said.

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Conversational Bot to Promote COVID-19 Vaccination Among Patients

Can an online conversation with a bot convince someone with MS to get a COVID-19 vaccine shot? I’m not sure a bot could influence someone who’s nervous about the vaccine to get one, but I guess it’s worth a try. What do you think?

A conversational bot is being developed at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) to promote COVID-19 vaccinations among people with multiple sclerosis (MS) who are hesitant to take the vaccine.

The project is meant to provide accessible digital health information about the vaccines to more vulnerable populations who believe vaccines might worsen their condition. The initiative is titled “Building a Motivational-Interviewing Conversational Agent (MintBot) for Promoting COVID-19 Vaccination Among People with Multiple Sclerosis.”

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Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.


Carole Sachs avatar

Carole Sachs

Hello Ed,
I’m in London, England and I wonder if anyone in the US has successfully reversed a foot drop? It’s my main MS symptom and I’d do anything (well almost) to get rid of it.

Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Hi Carole,

I've not heard of foot drop being "reversed," but I do know that it can be reduced. I'd see if you can consult with a physical therapist (physio therapist in England :-)) who may be able to help you with exercises. Also, there are electronic nerve stimulators (EFS), such as the Bioness L300 Go and the Walk-Aid that can help. I've used the L300 for years and it helps a lot. They're expensive, however, and I don't know if the NHS will provide them. A relatively inexpensive alternative is a ankle foot orthosis (AFO). It's a brace that will keep your ankle flexed slightly upward to reduce the foot drop.

Here's a little more info:



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