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Timothy L. Vollmer, MD
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The MS Alphabet: Blinding, B-cells, Betaseron and Other B Words

When it comes to MS, mastering an understanding of the disease means you need to mind your Ps and Qs, dot your Is, cross your Ts, and recite your ABCs. There is so much to know about this complex disease. But the more you know as a patient, or caregiver, the more informed you will be in making critical healthcare decisions.

This week, I offer five more terms that start with the letter B that you might want to master. You can read about previous B terms here. A terms are covered in this column.)

Symptoms of MS

Bell’s Palsy: This occurs when the seventh cranial nerve, also known as the facial nerve, becomes paralyzed or impossible to control. It usually occurs on just one side of the face. The face appears to droop, and it can trigger drooling or tear duct problems.

You also may experience pain in or behind your ear, facial numbness, or heightened sensitivity to noise. The condition can also interfere with your ability to taste or to produce saliva or tears.

Bell’s Palsy can be a symptom of MS when lesion activity occurs in the part of the central nervous system which regulates the facial nerve. Onset is sudden, and can be either temporary or permanent.

MS acronyms

BBB: Blood Brain Barrier. This is a semi-permeable cellular membrane wrapped around the blood vessels of the central nervous system. It prevents substances in the bloodstream from entering the brain and spinal cord. The substances can include large molecules of foreign matter, immune system cells, and viruses.

Many experts believe a breach of the BBB can lead to the development or progression of MS.

Common terms of MS

Blinding (clinical research term)

Blinding a clinical research experiment means masking specific kinds of information about it so a participant does not know what’s going on. Blinding is done to reduce or eliminate both intentional and unconscious bias during the experiment or study. Blind experimentation is considered essential in pharmaceutical testing.

A common application of blinding is randomized controlled trials. It usually involves a single-blind element, meaning that the person conducting the test is the only one who has access to all the information. In a double-blind experiment, both tester and subject do not have access to the key information around which the experiment is built.

The biology of MS


B-cells have a mixed role in the development of MS.

The bone marrow creates white blood cells. When they enter the bloodstream, they create antibodies that help generate a healthy immune system response.

In most parts of the body, B-cells help defend tissues against viruses, bacteria, and other invaders.

Although they aren’t ordinarily found in healthy brain tissue, B-cells may still find a way to cross the BBB and enter the central nervous system. There they wreak havoc on nerve fibers during periods of MS-related inflammation. The plaques or lesions they leave behind are evidence of their presence there.

MS treatments


This injectable drug from the interferon family of MS medications contains an active immunomodulating substance known as interferon beta-1b. It is used to reduce MS flare-ups and may even change the course of the disease.

Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by MULTIPLESCLEROSISNEWSTODAY
Note: Materials may be edited for content and length

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