Food for Thought: What Does “Cure” Mean?

“They are so close to a cure for this awful disease”, I was told so many times after I was diagnosed. “A cure is right around the corner!” I still hear it all the time, as I am sure everyone with multiple sclerosis (MS) does! I rarely partake in such conversations anymore but I was involved in one recently that got me thinking; “Everyone here is talking about a ‘cure’ but what do they mean by cure?” Something all of us want so badly but at the same time, based on what I was hearing, something a lot of people haven’t seemed to really think through? “Cure” seems like a pretty simple concept but with a disease like MS is it really? That’s all I am really wondering here; when you say “cure” what do you mean?

So when I really think about it I think about two main stages; stopping the disease and repairing the damage it leaves behind. If there was a magic shot that completely removed MS from our bodies that would be great and all but what about all the damage that it leaves behind from over the years? It would be like pulling an army out of a war; sure they are not destroying everything anymore but the cities are still in ruins! How do we repair the damage? Or when people think about a “cure” are they simply imagining that they will get a shot and everything goes back to normal? You wake up the next day and you can see clearly, your balance is back to normal, you are full of energy, no more pain, and you can think clear enough to work on a new career in corporate accounting? That would be great but I know that is not how it really works. That’s why I have always been interested in a therapy that can repair the broken myelin in out central nervous system (CNS) which is really what causes all the symptoms of MS.

So far all the treatments we have for MS aim to do one thing; stop the progression of the disease. They do not promise improvements. Some people do however drastically improve and I think that is because their treatment is stopping the active inflammation that has not yet done “permanent” damage not because it is repairing myelin. So again, no treatments (as of yet) promise anything like that and I do admit that I a bit of a cynic when it comes to this; a huge part of me thinks that “big pharma” does not want to produce a drug that cures MS because it is so much more profitable to make a drug that you have to keep spending money on for the rest of your life. Again, I know that is cynical and I am certain that there are people out there who don’t care about money and will do whatever it takes to find someone to produce the cure once they actually find it because they truly do just want to fix this “problem”.

But there is that word again, “cure”, so let’s say (for the sake of argument) that they create a drug that completely stops MS and essentially makes it disappear. What then would we do to fix the ruins that are our central nervous systems? Maybe they will eventually find something else but as of now, I think the answer may lie somewhere in stem cell therapy. A stem cell can become any kind of cell in the body which means they can regrow damaged or missing myelin. So you have stopped MS from attacking your CNS and causing permanent damage so the next step would be stem cells since they should be able to regrow what you are missing. Not exactly a quick fix but a fix nonetheless. The results from current studies on Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) are pretty promising so I really recommend you do some reading on that. The results are pretty impressive and that is just with stem cell therapy alone so if they could develop some kind of combination therapy I think that would be amazing. Expensive but amazing.

So what do you think the word “cure” means in regards to MS? Where do you think the “answer” to MS lies? It’s such a complex problem so there are certainly different ideas on how to solve it. Share yours below!

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