neuro society of the EU…report from annual meeting

    • Anonymous
      June 22, 2010 at 10:37 am

      Diseases of the nervous system and the brain occur more frequently than cancer. According to recent calculations of health care costs, they represent a burden of 386 billion euros a year on European economies,“ says Prof. Gérard Said, newly elected president of the European Neurological Society (ENS) at the annual meeting in Berlin, Germany. „This is often greatly underestimated.“

      Immune mediated neuropathy: new insights into pathogenesi

      While the underlying disease mechanisms of diabetic neuropathy are understood, they are much less clear for other less common forms of neuropathy. This is especially true for the rarer disease, immune mediated neuropathy, the course of which is often dramatic, and which is the subject of a special symposium. In this disease, a malfunction of the immune system damages nerve fibres, especially the myelin sheath which enclose the nerve fibres. The most commonly occurring form of immune mediated polyneuropathy is Guillan-Barré-Syndrome, a disease which causes paralysis of the arms and legs, and which can lead to respiratory paralysis. Another form is chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP). This often presents together with HIV infection, diabetes or hepatitis C. Paralysis in the legs and a swaying unsteady gait are typical of this disease. Most patients with immune mediated polyneuropathy require intensive medical care during the acute phase of the disease, and often require years to recover from the paralysis.

      At the ENS Meeting, Prof. Said also presents new insights on vasculitis, a group of disorders in which autoimmune processes lead to inflammatory destruction of blood vessels and consequent damage to the organs they supply. „In some forms of vasculitis, autoantibodies directed against structures of the patient’s own body are responsible,“ says Prof. Said. These are primarily antineutrophile cytoplasmic antibodies (ANCA). In other forms of vasculitis, so-called immune complexes cause the inflammation of blood vessels. The capacity of the antibody to activate certain protein structures of the immune system, the so-called complement system, causes inflammation of the affected vessels.

      A new study by British, Italian and Swiss researchers presented at the ENS congress in Berlin provides evidence that administering immunoglobulin subcutaneously may in future be an attractive alternative. „The new subcutaneous treatments, which are as effective or more so than IVIG, appear an attractive alternative, since patients don’t have to come to hospital for transfusions, allowing them to maintain greater flexibility,“ says Prof. Said.

      Source: ENS Presidential Symposium: Autoimmune disorders of the peripheral nervous system and muscle