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Health Bulletin


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  1. #681
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    1 in 5 Tamil Nadu kids overweight, health forecast dire: Study

    Tamil Nadu's children face a weighty problem.A nationwide study has found that one in every five children in Tamil Nadu are either overweight or obese - an ominous warning for the health of a large chunk of an entire generation and a pointer to the possibility that the state's healthcare apparatus may have to prepare for an explosion in obesity-related and lifestyle diseases.

    The survey by Bangalore-based EduSports covered 20,617 students in the age group of seven to 17 in 84 schools across Tamil Nadu and more than 57,000 children in 16 other states.

    Their fitness was measured over a period of 24 months under various parameters, including flexibility, lower and upper body strength, abdominal strength and Body Mass Index (BMI).

    "A worrying fact that surfaced during the survey was that two in every five children in Tamil Nadu did not have the appropriate BMI," EduSports CEO Saumil Majumdar says. "Around 19% of the children in Tamil Nadu had a higher BMI than normal, or were overweight, and 18% were undernourished, with a lower BMI than normal."

    Tamil Nadu did not fare as badly as nationwide scale-tipper Odisha, in which 37% of the children studied were found to be overweight, Delhi, in second place with 33%, or third-placed Kerala (29%).

    But Tamil Nadu, with 19%, has a much higher percentage of overweight children than Madhya Pradesh (10%), Maharashtra (14%), Gujarat (15%) and even neighbouring Karnataka (18%).

    An abnormal BMI means a child is more susceptible to various lifestyle diseases. This also reflected in diminished flexibility, muscle strength and endurance levels.

    In Tamil Nadu, over 40% of the children were graded as below average in a sprint test in the study. Around 57% had poor lower body flexibility and 42% were found wanting in upper body flexibility.

    "The survey was undertaken to identify the overall fitness levels of students in the country as it is a key indicator of the children's potential performance," Majumdar says, adding that he found it disturbing that an entire generation is unhealthy. The study covered 176 schools in 68 cities.

    Unhealthy lifestyles and reduced physical activity are taking a toll on the fitness of children, experts say. Schools are the best place for effective intervention, they say, because they have a dedicated time for sports every day and trained physical education teachers.

    But physical education teachers in the state are often poorly qualified. "The education system in the state has to wake up to the importance of physical fitness of students," says T Devi Selvam, state general secretary of Tamil Nadu Physical Education Teachers, Physical Directors (TNPETPD) Association.

    "Everybody is talking about children and obesity, but little is being done to tackle the problem," he says. "Most schools have a callous attitude towards physical education. Children are involved in physical activities and sports for barely two hours a week," said Selvam.

    Nutritionists say parents play a key role in their children's fitness. "Being chubby is not necessarily a sign of being healthy, but most parents do not know that," says nutritionist Meenakshi Bajaj of Madras Medical College.

    She says processed food is the most likely culprit for the rise in childhood obesity. Convenience of use has led to an increase in consumption of packaged dishes

    "A child's food must contain an adequate amount of fibre," Bajaj says. "Parents should choose food that is nutritious and low on calories."


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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Rare thalassaemia gene detected in Bengal family

    A rare thalassaemia gene mutation that could be specific to Bengali Brahmins has been detected by researchers in Kolkata.

    The 'Fannin Lubbock' mutation is a silent one, which cannot be detected in regular thalassaemia screening and has so far only been traced in a group of thalassaemia carriers in the Mediterranean region of Europe.

    What the discovery means is that unwitting carriers of the gene can now get a confirmatory test so that they don't end up marrying another carrier and putting their child at risk of this deadly disease. A team of experts under the guidance of senior scientist Jayasree Basak is researching the mutation and its origin.

    Fannin Lubbock mutation had not been reported from anywhere else in the world till scientists at Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) chanced upon four thalassaemia carriers of a single family in Bandel last month.

    The three women and a child had the rare mutation. Since no member of the family - a conservative Brahmin one belonging to the Barendra sect - has ever married outside the caste, scientists are intrigued about the source of the mutation and a study has been launched.

    Fannin Lubbock mutation alters the beta globin gene structure in haemoglobin and is impossible to detect in blood count tests. It's only revealed on molecular analysis. The defect doesn't lead to thalassaemia. It merely makes the person a carrier but a child of two thalassaemia carriers has a 25% chance of being born with the ailment.

    The discovery of the gene in the Barendra sect was almost by accident. A female member of the family visited NCRI for treatment after she had post-natal complications and a low haemoglobin count. While regular tests didn't show anything abnormal, molecular analysis revealed an alteration in the haemoglobin structure.

    "It was strikingly similar to Fannin Lubbock that has so far been detected only in Europe. We compared her mutation to the past cases and found that the origin was not the same," said Deboshree M Bhattacharyya, a senior research fellow at NCRI.

    Intrigued, the researchers launched into an intensive study. They screened all 16 members of the family and studied their clinical history. "We were surprised to find that the woman's mother was a carrier and had the mutation, too. Her aunt had Fannin Lubbock as well and she passed on the gene to her young son. We are trying to trace the source of the gene since it has never been reported anywhere in the sub-continent, let alone Bengal," said Jayasree Basak.

    It's all the more intriguing since a very small percentage of Bengali Brahmins are thalassaemia carriers, compared to the rest of the Bengali population, she added.

    Around 2-3% of Bengali Brahmins are carriers, compared to 10-11% of the non-Brahmins. "This particular family hasn't had an inter-caste marriage in at least four generations. So, the source remains a mystery. Non-Brahmins in Bengal have a higher percentage of thalassaemia carriers because they marry outside the caste more often," said Deboshree Bhattacharyya.

    Bengal now has more than 1 lakh thalassaemia patients and 10% of the population in Kolkata is believed to be carriers. Secretary of the Thalassaemia and Aids Prevention Society Sailen Bose, however, refused to accept that thalassaemia could be caste-specific. "It would be wrong to conclude that fewer Brahmins have the disease since there has been no authentic study. Irrespective of caste, the number of thalassaemia patients has been spiralling. If this latent gene is detected it would be a boon. Or else carriers would go undetected," said Bose.


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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Now, a microscope in your gut

    Soon, your gastroenterologist will be able to have a look at your digestive organs as if it has been put under a microscope. Experts at the 54th annual conference of Indian Society of Gastroenterology which kicked off here on Thursday said that new advancements in the field of endoscopy will allow doctors to look at the insides of the stomach like a pathologist sees it in under the microscope. This will help them pick up cancers which are otherwise missed in biopsies using conventional endoscopy.

    "The next advancement in endoscopy is con-focal endoscope which will be the closest thing to live histology. Conventionally, when biopsy samples of suspected cancers are taken, many test false positives. This is not because cancer is not there but the site from the biopsy sample is chosen was wrong. Con-focal will allow visibility which is like looking at the organs live under a microscope which will greatly correct diagnosis of cancer", said Dr Shyam Varadarajulu, medical director of endoscopy in Florida Hospital, US.

    Dr Varadarajulu said that the advance endoscopy is being used at 30-40 centres in the US and equal number of hospitals in Europe. "Currently, they are expensive but the technology is expected to come to India in the next two years".

    Nearly 2,500 delegates from all over the globe are participating in the conference which will conclude on Sunday. Secretary of Indian Society of Gastroenterology Dr S P Mishra said the conference will include academic sessions, continuous medical education sessions, orations and lecture series on myriad topics of gastroenterology.

    Organizing secretary of the conference Dr Sudhanshu Patwari said that exhaustive sessions would be held on new advancements in gastroenterology, liver diseases and transplant and endoscopy.

    Joint organizing secretary Dr Nilay Mehta said that 300 national and 15 international experts will brainstorm over the challenges, new advancements and special case studies encountered by experts all over the country and world.

    International expert Irving Waxman, director of the Center of Endoscopic Research and Therapeutics, University of Chicago, US said that advanced endoscope which will also facilitate ultrasound from the insides allow treatments like removing biliary obstructions, pancreatic drainage and diagnosis of pancreatic cancer at a preliminary stage.

    Hic, hic, hurray: Alcohol shot which cures

    International experts said that pancreatic cancer is one of the worst forms of cancer which has a poor prognosis rate. Only 5% of the pancreatic cancer patients survive for five years. Here, treating cysts in the pancreas can prove to be a milestone in early diagnosis and treatment as these cysts can become cancer.

    Interestingly, while the international conference on gastroenterology will have exhaustive sessions on liver disease including treatment of alcoholic liver cirrhosis, doctors gave thumbs up to an alcohol shot which has the potential to cure.

    "We introduce 98% absolute alcohol into the cysts in the pancreas. Alcohol is a corrosive agent and helps ablating or corroding the cancer tissue. We have found that this treatment helps cure 60% cysts and prevents cancer", said Dr Shyam Varadarajulu.


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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Soon, natural-looking 3D printed skin

    UK scientists are developing a natural-looking 3D printed synthetic skin that can be matched to a person based on their age, gender and ethnic group.

    Working alongside colleagues at the University of Manchester, University of Liverpool researchers are now developing 3D image processing and skin modelling techniques that can copy a person's skin so that it appears natural, whatever light it is shown in.

    While it is possible to print synthetic skin in one tone, this does not reflect the diversity of the surface which in real life will be patterned by freckles, veins and wrinkles.

    People walking between daylight and artificial light also take on a different shade, so any synthetic skin has to produce the same effect.

    Using a 3D camera will also allow geometry to be taken into account as the perception of skin is often influenced by factors such as shadows.

    The first strand of the project will be to perfect 3D camera technology and subsequent image processing that can almost exactly match an individual's skin tone and skin texture under varying light sources.

    This will be carried out on an individual basis so that each person's synthetic skin is bespoke.

    The researchers will also find ways of taking 3D images of skin types of hundreds of people in order to build up a database which can be used more generally.

    This bank would then be used in more remote areas or in countries where access to calibrated 3D cameras is difficult.

    However, 3D printers are relatively cheap so with access to a bank of skin types and a printer, medics could still produce a close match of skin type chosen from a large database of designs.

    "The human visual system is extremely sensitive to small distortions in skin appearance, so making a convincing synthetic version will be essential whether this technology is used for emergency or cosmetic medicine," Dr Sophie Wuerger from the Perception Group in the University's Institute of Psychology, Health and Society said.


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    Re: Health Bulletin

    A pill for all ills: Online consultants step in to guide confused patients

    Chitra Mary, 28, who suffered a minor leg injury, faced the dreadful possibility of amputation of her limb due to medical negligence. The patient from Trichy did not understand her condition and was unsure how to proceed. "I sought the help of an online consultancy agency, in Chennai, and they guided me to a plastic surgeon at a private hospital. They were able to control my infection without amputating my leg," Chitra told TOI.

    Confused over conflicting advice and tired of meeting different doctors, patients are moving towards online agencies as a solution. They not only get multiple options, but the agencies are involved right from fixing their appointments until post-care treatment.

    The healthcare sector is evolving with online services offering patients a range of alternatives and consultations. Start-up firms have mushroomed all over the country, roping in doctors from India and abroad. Most online agents offer services free of cost to patients and their revenue model is based on tie-ups with doctors and hospitals.

    With a team of doctors and administrators, Chennai-based HealthOpinion, which was launched in April, guides patients to select a specialist from a list of doctors across India. They even arrange airport pickups and accommodation for outstation and foreign patients. "We don't decide for the patients, we give them options and provide end-to-end services," says K Krishnakavya, co-founder, HealthOpinion.

    One of their clients from Kenya, Dorothy*, 35, says that as an international patient, online services offer a number of advantages. "I found it more convenient, I could use the online provider and they would then contact several service providers about what I was looking for. They keep a copy of your health records and I can read information in my own time," says Dorothy. "Someone accompanies us to the doctor. If there was an issue with language, they helped us."

    Another Delhi-based firm HealthIndya has been receiving an average of 10 patients every day since they launched their website in June. "We have tied up with specialists in hospitals and also offer online consultations with international doctors," says G Sandeep, Business Head, HealthIndya.

    But doctors are sceptical and say patients should be prudent while trusting any online consultant. "India has a very confusing healthcare system, so, any additional information source is welcome. But how good they are, is yet to be evaluated," says Dr George Thomas, former editor, Indian Journal of Medical Ethics. Many doctors have their own websites so patients are wary about whom to go to and rely on online agencies to guide them, Thomas points out.

    Most doctors agree that online agencies and consultation would only add to the existing system and that it would not replace the tradition of going by the doctor's practice and word-of-mouth. The advantage for patients is that they can discuss the doctor's background and his successful cases with the consultants before they make a decision, says Dr Nandkumar Sundaram, director, Trauma and Orthopedics, Nova Hospital. "Unless doctors are friendly, patients find it hard to clear their doubts with them and consultants are obliged to answer their queries." He also added that many patients with chronic illnesses approach online consultants to make an informed decision.


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    Re: Health Bulletin

    In a first, stem cells used to grow fresh lung tissue

    Lung transplants - a huge challenge for medical science for high rates of rejection, may soon become passe.

    Stem cells could soon be used to grow a new lung.

    For the first time, scientists have succeeded in transforming human stem cells into functional lung and airway cells.

    The advance, reported by Columbia University Medical Centre (CUMC) researchers, has significant potential for modelling lung disease, screening drugs, studying human lung development, and, ultimately, generating lung tissue for transplantation.

    "Researchers have had relative success in turning human stem cells into heart cells, pancreatic beta cells, intestinal cells, liver cells and nerve cells, raising all sorts of possibilities for regenerative medicine. Now, we are finally able to make lung and airway cells. This is important because lung transplants have a particularly poor prognosis. Although any clinical application is still many years away, we can begin thinking about making autologous lung transplants - that is, transplants that use a patient's own skin cells to generate functional lung tissue," said study leader Hans-Willem Snoeck, professor of medicine at CUMC.

    "In the longer term, we hope to use this technology to make an autologous lung graft," Dr Snoeck said.

    "This would entail taking a lung from a donor, removing all the lung cells, leaving only the lung scaffold and seeding the scaffold with new lung cells derived from the patient. In this way, rejection problems could be avoided," Dr Snoeck is added.

    The latest development comes a few years after Dr Snoeck's earlier discovery of a set of chemical factors that can turn human embryonic stem (ES) cells or human induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells into anterior foregut endoderm - precursors of lung and airway cells.

    Columbia University has filed for a patent relating to the generation of lung and airway epithelium from human pluripotent stem cells and its uses.

    There were 5.56 lakh cancer deaths in India in 2010. At 30-69 years, the three most common fatal cancers in men were: oral (including lip and pharynx, 45,800 (23%), stomach 25,200 (13%) and lung (including trachea and larynx) 22,900 (11%).

    There were twice as many deaths from oral cancers as lung cancers, in part due to common use of chewing tobacco in men and women.

    The findings have implications for the study of a number of lung diseases, including idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF).

    "No one knows what causes the disease, and there's no way to treat it," says Dr Snoeck. "Using this technology, researchers will finally be able to create laboratory models of IPF, study the disease at the molecular level, and screen drugs for possible treatments or cures".


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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Energy drinks may spike heart contractions

    Consuming energy drinks high in caffeine and taurine can change the way the heart beats, scientists have found.

    Healthy adults who consumed energy drinks had significantly increased heart contraction rates one hour later, researchers said.

    "Until now, we haven't known exactly what effect these energy drinks have on the function of the heart," said Jonas Dorner, of the cardiovascular imaging section at the University of Bonn, Germany, which is led by the study's principal investigator, Daniel K Thomas.

    "There are concerns about the products' potential adverse side effects on heart function, especially in adolescents and young adults, but there is little or no regulation of energy drink sales," Thomas said.

    "Usually energy drinks contain taurine and caffeine as their main pharmacological ingredients," Dorner added.

    "The amount of caffeine is up to three times higher than in other caffeinated beverages like coffee or cola.

    "There are many side effects known to be associated with a high intake of caffeine, including rapid heart rate, palpitations, rise in blood pressure and, in the most severe cases, seizures or sudden death," Dorner said.

    For the study, which is ongoing, Dorner and colleagues used cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to measure the effect of energy drink consumption on heart function in 18 healthy volunteers, including 15 men and three women with a mean age of 27.5 years.

    Each of the volunteers underwent cardiac MRI before and one hour after consuming an energy drink containing taurine (400 mg/100 ml) and caffeine (32 mg/100 ml).

    Compared to the baseline images, results of cardiac MRI performed one hour after the study participants consumed the energy drink revealed significantly increased peak strain and peak systolic strain rates (measurements for contractility) in the left ventricle of the heart.

    The heart's left ventricle receives oxygenated blood from the lungs and pumps it to the aorta, which distributes it throughout the rest of the body.

    "We don't know exactly how or if this greater contractility of the heart impacts daily activities or athletic performance," Dorner said.

    "We need additional studies to understand this mechanism and to determine how long the effect of the energy drink lasts," Dorner said.

    The researchers found no significant differences in heart rate, blood pressure or the amount of blood ejected from the left ventricle of the heart between the volunteers' baseline and second MRI exams.

    "We've shown that energy drink consumption has a short-term impact on cardiac contractility," Dorner said.

    "Further studies are needed to evaluate the impact of long-term energy drink consumption and the effect of such drinks on individuals with heart disease," Dorner added.

    The study was presented at a meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) in Chicago.


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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Alzheimer's a late stage of diabetes: Study

    Scientists have found that Alzheimer's - a neurodegenerative disorder - may actually be a late stage of Type 2 diabetes.

    The findings also suggest that losing weight and exercising may ward off Alzheimer's, at least in the very early stages, researchers said.

    The extra insulin produced by those with Type 2 diabetes also gets into the brain, disrupting its chemistry, which can lead to the formation of toxic clumps of amyloid proteins that poison brain cells, researchers said.

    "The discovery could explain why people who develop T2 diabetes often show sharp declines in cognitive function, with an estimated 70 per cent developing Alzheimer's - far more than in the rest of the population," said Ewan McNay at Albany University in New York.

    "People who develop diabetes have to realise this is about more than controlling their weight or diet. It's also the first step on the road to cognitive decline," McNay said.

    The increased risk of Alzheimer's disease in Type 2 diabetics has been known for a long time.

    McNay's research aimed at discovering the mechanism by which T2 diabetes might cause Alzheimer's.

    He fed rats on a high-fat diet to induce T2 diabetes and then carried out memory tests, showing that the animals' cognitive skills deteriorated rapidly as the disease progressed, 'The Sunday Times' reported.

    An examination of their brains showed clumps of amyloid protein had formed, of the kind found in the brains of Alzheimer's patients.

    McNay suggests that, in people with Type 2 diabetes, the body becomes resistant to insulin, a hormone that controls blood-sugar levels - so the body produces more of it.

    However, some of that insulin also makes its way into the brain, where its levels are meant to be controlled by the same enzyme that breaks down amyloid.

    "High levels of insulin swamp this enzyme so that it stops breaking down amyloid. The latter then accumulates until it forms toxic clumps that poison brain cells. It's the same amyloid build-up to blame in both diseases - T2 diabetics really do have low-level Alzheimer's," McNay said.

    The research was presented at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in San Diego.


  9. #689
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    அரசு மருத்துவமனைகளில் யோகா, இயற்கை சிகிச்சை மையம்!

    தமிழகத்தில் அனைத்து மாவட்ட அரசு மருத்துவமனைகள் மற்றும் அரசு மருத்துவக்கல்லூரிகளில் யோகா மற்றும் இயற்கை சிகிச்சை மையம் ரூ.9 கோடியே 60 லட்சம் செலவில் அமைக்கப்படுகிறது.

    இன்றைய அவசர உலகில் மன அழுத்தத்தில் பல நோய்கள் வருகின்றன. இந்த மன அழுத்தத்தைபோக்கவும், மன அழுத்தம் வராமல் தடுக்கவும் யோகா கலை உதவுகிறது. தினமும் அரசு மருத்துவமனைகளுக்கு வரும் நோயாளிகளில் பலர் யோகா மற்றும் இயற்கை சார்ந்த வாழ்க்கைத்தர சிகிச்சை மையம் தேவைப்படுகிறது.
    இதை அறிந்த முதல்வர் ஜெயலலிதா மக்கள் நலனில் அக்கறை கொண்டு தமிழ்நாடு சட்டசபை விதி 110ன் கீழ் ஒரு அறிவிப்பில் ரூ.9 கோடியே 60 லட்சம் செலவில் அனைத்து மருத்துவக்கல்லூரிகளிலும், அனைத்து மாவட்ட அரசு மருத்துவமனைகளிலும் யோகா மற்றும் இயற்கை சார்ந்த வாழ்க்கைத்தர சிகிச்சை மையம் அமைக்கப்படும் என்று அறிவித்தார்.

    அதன்படி அனைத்து அரசு மருத்துவக்கல்லூரிகள், அனைத்து மாவட்ட அரசு மருத்துவமனைகளில் இந்த யோகா மற்றும் இயற்கை சார்ந்த வாழ்க்கைத்தர சிகிச்சை மையம் அமைக்கப்படுகிறது.
    18 மருத்துவக்கல்லூரிகளிலும் ஒரு உதவி மருத்துவர் உள்ளிட்ட 4 பதவிகள் உருவாக்கப்பட்டுள்ளன. இந்த மையம் அமைக்க நோயாளிகள் அறை, யோகா அறை ஆகியவறை அமைக்கப்படுகிறது. மேலும் நீர்வழி சிகிச்சை, மண்வழி சிகிச்சை, காந்த சிகிச்சை, மசாஜ் சிகிச்சை, கலர் சிகிச்சை, மின் சிகிச்சை, அக்குபஞ்சர் சிகிச்சை, தேக பயிற்சி சிகிச்சை ஆகியவையும் அளிக்கப்பட உள்ளது.

    இதுபோன்ற வசதி அனைத்தும் மாவட்ட தலைமை மருத்துவமனைகளிலும் அமைக்கப்பட உள்ளது.


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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Antioxidant drug may reverse multiple sclerosis: Study

    For people suffering from multiple sclerosis - that affects more than 2.3 million people worldwide - a cure may lie in an antioxidant drug.

    Designed by scientists more than a dozen years ago to fight damage within human cells, this drug significantly reversed symptoms in mice that had a multiple sclerosis-like disease.

    Researchers led by an Indian-American scientist P Hemachandra Reddy at the Oregon Health and Science University have discovered that MitoQ -- an antioxidant -- shows some promise in fighting neuro-degenerative diseases.

    But this is the first time it has been shown to significantly reverse a multiple sclerosis-like disease in an animal, says the study published in the journal Biochimica et Biophysica Acta Molecular Basis of Disease.

    The researchers induced mice to contract a disease called experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, or EAE, which is very similar to MS in humans.

    After 14 days, the EAE mice that had been treated with the MitoQ exhibited reduced inflammatory markers and increased neuronal activity in the spinal cord - an affected brain region in multiple sclerosis - that showed their EAE symptoms were being improved by the treatment, said the study.

    The mice also showed reduced loss of axons, or nerve fibres and reduced neurological disabilities associated with the EAE.

    "The MitoQ also significantly reduced inflammation of the neurons and reduced demyelination. These results are really exciting. This could be a new front in the fight against MS," said Reddy, associate scientist at Oregon National Primate Research Centre.

    The next steps for Reddy's team is to understand the mechanisms of MitoQ neuroprotection in different regions of the brain.

    Multiple sclerosis occurs when the body's immune system attacks the myelin, or the protective sheath, surrounding nerve fibres of the central nervous system. Some underlying nerve fibres are destroyed.

    Resulting symptoms can include blurred vision and blindness, loss of balance, slurred speech, tremors, numbness and problems with memory and concentration.


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