Not much has changed over the past 40 years with respect to the diagnosis and treatment of multiple sclerosis. We are no closer to knowing the cause of MS and there is still no cure. This post reviews the history of MS diagnosis, explains the current criteria used to diagnose multiple sclerosis and why it is hindering us from finding a cure.
The history of Multiple Sclerosis Diagnosis
In the late 1300s, it was observed that some people had a progressive illness similar which would later be called MS.
By 1868, neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot defined multiple sclerosis and gave MS its name.
From the 1800s and 1900s, hundreds of potential treatments for MS were tested on MS patients. A poisonous plant, arsenic, mercury, and the injection of malaria parasites were just a few of the ineffective and dangerous treatments tested on MS patients.
In 1951, the steroid cortisone was used for the first time to treat MS flares. It reduced the severity of the MS relapse and shortened its duration, but it had no long-term benefits for MS patients.
The Schumacher criteria was introduced in 1965 to attempt to standardize clinical criteria for diagnosing MS.
Then in 1983, the Poser criteria for MS diagnosis added measuring the electrical activity in the brain and spinal cord and also it considered cerebrospinal fluid.[i]
In the early 1980s, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was also introduced to help diagnose and treat multiple sclerosis by allowing doctors to see the presence and activity of lesions in the central nervous system of MS patients.
In 2001, the first McDonald MS diagnostic criteria was published by an international team led by neurologist Ian McDonald which recommended clinical and lab evaluations and MRI results to diagnose MS. The diagnosis of MS was to be determined by lesions disseminated in space and time, which essentially means that the lesions in multiple sclerosis occur in multiple parts of the central nervous system over time.
The McDonald Criteria was revised in 2005 to simplify and speed the diagnosis of MS.
In 2010, the McDonald criteria underwent yet another revision to further simplify MS diagnosis with fewer required MRI examinations.
The most recent 2017 McDonald criteria allows the presence of antibodies in spinal fluid to substitute for dissemination of lesions in time. Thus, people can now be diagnosed with multiple sclerosis after a single MS attack (clinically isolated syndrome) and with a single brain MRI to promote earlier treatment.
The goal of each revision of the McDonald criteria was to simplify the process and increase the speed of diagnosing people with multiple sclerosis so treatment could be started sooner.
The McDonald criteria is widely used in MS research. It greatly influences how MS is studied.
Today MRI scans are the single most important paraclinical diagnostic and monitoring tool available.[ii]
It is interesting that with millions of dollars invested each year in MS research, there have been no new discoveries into the cause or cure for MS in over 40 years. We have been doing the same thing for the past 40 years, just with newer and more expensive drugs.
Even more alarming is the fact that the very panel of experts that dictates how MS is diagnosed, feel that there is no value in examining the spinal fluid of MS patients for infection. They know that the immune system is active in the CNS of MS patients and the primary job of the immune system is to protect the body from infections and the toxins they produce. Yet, they are not interested in inspecting the spinal fluid of MS patients for potential pathogens, even though they don’t know what causes MS… Why aren’t they?
MS research is big business.
The National Institute of Health (NIH) is the leading medical research institution in the US and the single largest source of biomedical research funding in the world. It is also the single largest source of funding for MS research projects in the world. The NHI received:
- $42.9 billion in 2021
- $45 billion in 2022
- $47.5 billion in 2023[iii]
The MS Research Program (MSRP) is administered by the US Department of Defense and funded by Congress as part of the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program. In 2023, the MSRP received $20 million in funding.
Government agencies fund and provide grants using taxpayer dollars to study new immunosuppressive maintenance MS drugs.
Pharmaceutical companies will only research therapeutics that are lucrative. Curing MS is not profitable when compared to the current MS drugs, which are billed out at hundreds of thousands of dollars each year for each MS patient.
Companies that sell MS treatments should not influence how the disease is diagnosed or treated. This would be a conflict of interest, yet this is exactly what is happening.
Please review the declaration of interests on page 107 – 171 of the 2017 McDonald criteria. It is clear that virtually every company that sells MS disease modifying drugs gives money to members of the international panel that created the McDonald diagnostic criteria for MS. Members have received compensation for lecture fees, personal fees, traveling expenses, grants and other payments. The declaration of interests takes up a full page of very small print to document financial support to the panel members by virtually every manufacturer of MS drugs.
So, the vast majority of MS research is focused on finding new patentable, lucrative, immunosuppressive disease modifying drugs that will be prescribed to patients on an ongoing basis.
Today more than 20 disease modifying therapies are approved for relapsing forms of MS, with some recent approvals that include primary-progressive MS (PPMS) and “active” (with relapses still occurring) secondary-progressive MS (SPMS).
For more than 40 years, we have been stuck in a world-wide paradigm where our immune system is blamed for causing MS, so all MS treatments are designed to suppress the immune system. The MS drugs do not work because our immune system is not the problem. If it was, it wouldn’t make a difference if we changed our diet, treated parasites or lived a healthy lifestyle. ‘Our immune system would still attack our nerve tissue. But this is not the case!
Many Wellness Champions have treated parasites well enough to become MS free for many years. They get their health and life back and do not take MS drugs. Their immune system works as it should.
There are real solutions to recover from parasites today!
To restore health, we must focus on treating the cause of inflammation, which are parasites. First, identify the enemy (parasites), then support the body and treat the parasites while following a holistic approach. When parasitic infections are treated effectively, we can overcome inflammation or disease.
If you’re frustrated with the fact that our standard of care STILL doesn’t offer a real solution for treating MS and other diseases, then click on the link below to watch Pam Bartha’s free masterclass training and discover REAL solutions that have allowed Pam and many others to live free from MS and other diseases.