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Science
CASE NOTES
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Tuesday 21:00-21:30
Repeat Wednesday 16:30
Dr Mark Porter gives listeners the low-down on what the medical profession does and doesn't know. Each week an expert in the studio tackles a particular topic and there are reports from around the UK on the health of the nation - and the NHS.
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LISTEN AGAINListen 30 min
Listen to 15 May
PRESENTER
DR MARK PORTER
Dr Mark Porter
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Tuesday 15 May 2007
Multiple Sclerosis

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Multiple Sclerosis

In this week's edition of Case Notes, Dr Mark Porter finds out about the latest developments in the management of multiple sclerosis – better known as MS.

His guest in the studio is Professor Alan Thompson – Clinical Director, and Director of Research and Development at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in London.

About 85,000 people in the UK have MS.  It's a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system, in which damage or scarring occurs to the myelin sheath – a layer of fatty protein that surrounds and protects the nerve fibres.  Eventually patients may become totally paralysed and wheelchair-bound.

MS can cause a wide variety of symptoms – some of the more common symptoms include visual disturbances, fatigue, bladder problems and pain.

The majority of treatments involve managing specific symptoms, which might involve a combination of drug treatment, input from therapists and the development of management strategies.

Caroline Swinburne visits a Life and MS group in Norfolk where MS sufferers can meet to access treatments like physiotherapy, and – perhaps more importantly – meet and share symptoms and experiences.

Neil Scolding, Professor of Clinical Neuroscienes at the University of Bristol tells Mark exactly what drug treatments are available for MS and how they work.  These include steroids, which are used in the short term to accelerate recovery from a relapse; beta interferons and glacitramer acetate, which reduce the number of attacks; and new disease modifying agents which are thought to have a dramatic effect in reducing relapses.

Another therapy being trialled for MS patients is the use of cannabinoids – the active ingredients in cannabis. Use of cannabis by people with MS has attracted a lot of publicity in recent years, but can it really help? John Zajicek, Professor of Clinical Neuroscience at the Peninsula Medical School, tells Mark about his trials of cannabinoids.
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