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Understanding MS

Multiple sclerosis (MS) affects myelin, the fatty insulating material wrapped around axons. When myelin gradually breaks down, the nerves can no longer efficiently carry electric signals between the brain and body. Some researchers think that MS is an autoimmune disease - the body's own immune system breaks down the myelin. The trigger for this self-destruction is not known, but it could involve a virus.

In multiple sclerosis the myelin (arrowed) around nerves gradually breaks down.
In multiple sclerosis the myelin (arrowed) around nerves gradually breaks down.
Mike Kayser/Wellcome Photo Library

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