Welcome! This blog contains research & information on lifestyle, nutrition and health for those with MS, as well as continuing information on the understanding of the endothelium and heart-brain connection. This blog is informative only--all medical decisions should be discussed with your own physicians.

The posts are searchable---simply type in your topic of interest in the search box at the top left.

Almost all of MS research is initiated and funded by pharmaceutical companies. This maintains the EAE mouse model and the auto-immune paradigm of MS, and continues the 20 billion dollar a year MS treatment industry. But as we learn more about slowed blood flow, gray matter atrophy, and environmental links to MS progression and disability--all things the current drugs do not address--we're discovering more about how to help those with MS.

To learn how this journey began, read my first post from August, 2009. Be well! Joan

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Dr. Michal Schwartz was right.

The last hundred years or so, all of neurological disease research has maintained that any immune cells which showed up in the brain were there for one of three reasons:  to protect the brain against infection, in an autoimmune reaction (as in MS) or during an inflammatory attack (as occurs after stroke or ischemia.)  But immune cells as part of a healthy, functioning brain?  Absolutely not!

MS researchers have continued this dogmatic narrative, based on the "successful" development of EAE and immune ablating and suppressing drugs.  They maintain that the brain is immune privileged, and the blood brain barrier is meant to keep immune cells out.  And they've been suppressing the heck out of MS patients' immune cells ever since.

Recent research from the University of Virginia and the Kipnis Lab has called all of this into question.  It now appears that a healthy immune system is connected to the brain,  Exactly as it is in all other organs, via lymphatic vessels which drain into veins.

But even before the U of V publication, there has been one researcher who has single-handedly challenged the dogma on the immune privileged brain.  She has asserted the need for immune cells in our central nervous system.   She has been ridiculed, mocked and ignored--because she has stated that immune cells are supposed to be in the brain to aid, repair and rebuild.  She has published on the premise that immune cells are neuroprotective.

Dr. Michal Schwartz of the Weizmann Institute of Science has questioned whether immune ablation and suppression  in multiple sclerosis drugs was the correct approach.  Her research showed that it was essential not to completely stop the immune cells entering the MS brain, but to retrain the cells:  immune modulation, rather than immune suppression.  She continued to publish that immune suppressing drugs had fallen short, that MS continued to progress.  She thought it was impossible that the brain would have given up its ability to be assisted by the immune system.  It simply did not make sense to her.  Why would our most important organ not need the immune cells?

Immune ablation and suppression never made sense to me.  Subsequently, I've been following her research ever since Jeff was diagnosed with MS in 2007.  And that's why Jeff has only ever been on Copaxone, which was developed at the Weizmann Institute.  Copaxone retrains the immune cells thought to be causing damage, and leaves the others intact.

Dr. Schwartz likes to quote Abraham Lincoln--
"If you are doing any revolution, do not try to convince your opponents,
if you are right, you don't need it.  If you are wrong, it will not help you."

Dr. Schwartz has been quietly conducting her revolution in Israel, publishing her research in medical journals, and speaking out on the absolute necessity of immune cells in the brain.  As she says, "A healthy mind depends on a healthy immune system."  These so-called lymphocyte "auto-immune cells", which MS drugs sought to inhibit, were the exact same ones her research showed were needed to repair the brain.  And she established her theory of "protective autoimmunity."  Her research continued to show that these cells were needed to create new stem cells.

Immune cell suppression and ablation will need to be reconsidered now.

She has been brave enough to keep on this trail.  And now, with the recent U of V research,  it appears she was right all along.
Here's Dr. Schwartz presenting her research in plain English.
Give her fifteen minutes of your time---listen to her revolution.

Be careful with serious immune ablating and suppressing drugs, especially while we're still learning about the function of immune cells in the CNS.  If this past week and the U of V research has taught us anything, it's that we simply don't know what we don't know...

be well, be hopeful,
be educated,



  1. Please Read this; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apoptosis

    1. Hi Tony--Not sure what your comment is in reference to? But aptosis (like Wallerian degeneration) may well be a part of progressive MS. Research is still being conducted on this. Dr. Schwartz has stated that boosting immune cell activity in the brain might inhibit axonal cell death in ALS and progressive MS, but much more research needs to be done. http://www.nature.com/nrn/journal/v15/n6/full/nrn3680.html

  2. Hi..
    I am an old neuro ICU nurse from 91-2001 and also have MS from 2011 be it could be from 1996. In trauma and stroke we tried to maintain a good circulatory system with a low intracranial pressure. The effect was to slow and stop cellular death. We monitor every organ that supported the brain. To get the dead cells out of the brain you need a good circulatory system and the point of Apoptosis article that a person needs a good immune system.

    1. Thanks for explaining, Tony. With you 100%. Loss of neurons and gray matter atrophy (cellular death) is the true target in MS--and the myelin degredation may simply be bystander injury. Which is why white matter lesions are not tied to disability and MS progression, but gray matter atrophy is. And why white matter injury stops when MS becomes progressive. But we've been stuck with the EAE model of the disease for far too long. My husband had a reversal of gray matter atrophy after his stenotic dural sinus and jugular veins were stented. And no more MS progression, either. Check out this blog, see what you think. I've been writing about this for far too long. I think Dr. Schwartz's revolution is underway now. Hope you're doing OK. be well, Joan

  3. This is so amazing! This new discovery of a lymphiatic system in the brain will lead to a better understanding of neurological diseases. Turns the assumptions of what is happening in the brain of MS patients on its head. It is inspiring that researcher such as Dr. Michal Schwartz thought independently and had the courage to publish when others just followed the herd. Best thing since sliced bread.

    1. Dr. Schwartz has been leading the charge, and now, more will follow. Strengthening and modulating the immune system, rather than stopping and blocking immune cells, may well be the future of MS treatments. And the connection of the heart to the brain is finally being explored. The brain is not immune privileged, it is connected to our bodies by lymphatic and blood vessels. I am hopeful, and thankful for this doctor's persistence!