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Curing MS: How Science Is Solving the Mysteries of Multiple Sclerosis Paperback – October 25, 2005


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Editorial Reviews

From The New England Journal of Medicine

Scientists, medical researchers, and academic physicians share a fundamental shortcoming: we consistently fail to translate and describe our professional world -- its struggles, its successes, and even its basic workings -- to the general public. In science, this flaw, lamentably, affects the people who direct funding policies, and in medicine it denies knowledge to patients who hope for improvements in and possible cures for their condition. As science rapidly grows more complex and technical, the gap widens between scientific realities and public perceptions of how science works. Indeed, the daily televised diet of medical breakthroughs fails to convey the complexities of medical progress and the difficulties involved in bringing a bench observation to the stage of useful therapy. (Figure) Enter Howard Weiner, a veteran neurologist with decades of experience in medical research on multiple sclerosis, with a monograph on the medical history of such research and the clinical realities of the disease. He draws a rich, fascinating portrait of important failures and successes in this difficult field of medicine. Almost an autobiography, this book is well written and detailed. It also appeals through down-to-earth language that avoids trivialization and places complex biology within the grasp of the interested but uninitiated reader. With mastery, Weiner mixes anecdote with the teaching of biologic, statistical, and medical processes, rendering a living tale that keeps the reader's attention. There is much passion here as the author highlights decades of continuing frustration in the search for causes of the clinically varied and elusive, chronically progressive condition of multiple sclerosis and its many subtypes. This book will be instructive and interesting for patients, their families, and many people with other chronic diseases. The book manages to entertain while drawing a clear picture of the evolving process that drives medical progress, however slowly and ponderously. Few issues remain untouched, from the need for (and danger of) ego as the investigator weathers the many frustrations before the rare successes occur to the stony path from bench observation to bedside use. The tone is inherently optimistic as the book highlights the development and regulatory approval of the small but slowly growing number of drugs approved or already used for the treatment of multiple sclerosis. By and large, the author avoids diving too deeply into science and technology, and he freely and frequently admits that an understanding of the mechanisms involved in multiple sclerosis (and in most other autoimmune diseases) is missing. Much of this book is about clinical trials in a difficult field. The trials suffer from a lack of predictive, surrogate markers of intermediate to long-term outcomes, as well as from a paucity of practical measures of effectiveness, with magnetic resonance imaging a difficult but irreplaceable tool. The author excels at illustrating these points and at emphasizing the need for proper controls, questions, and answers that can be interpreted with confidence in such trials. The title, Curing MS, is bold and misleading, but the author himself corrects the misconception about the likelihood of cures for this disease in the last chapter. The backbone of the book is the "Weiner list" of 21 hypotheses that describe the author's view of multiple sclerosis as a primary autoimmune disease that, possibly, is caused by unknown infectious episodes. Not all of these hypotheses are uniformly acknowledged in the field, but most are in the mainstream; some, such as a strong focus on cytokines, are somewhat dated, though not inappropriately for what is basically a history of the medicine surrounding multiple sclerosis. This book does not attempt to provide a critical assessment of the status of therapy for the disease -- it really does not explain "how science is solving the mysteries of multiple sclerosis," as the subtitle claims -- but it does provide a realistic look at the field, with its challenges, its origins, and the more recent achievements that have been made with a modicum of therapeutic tools. Shawn Winer, Ph.D.
Copyright © 2005 Massachusetts Medical Society. All rights reserved. The New England Journal of Medicine is a registered trademark of the MMS. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

It is estimated that more than 400,000 people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, which affects the nerve fibers in the brain and spinal cord. Moreover, MS--like juvenile diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease--is the number one cause of paralysis in children. No one yet knows what causes the degenerative and progressive malady, but it is believed everyone may have the capability to contract it. Although there have been astounding leaps forward in the creation of treatment options, there is still no cure. Those figures and facts represent but a handful of the topics Harvard neurologist Weiner, founder-director of the Multiple Sclerosis Center at Massachusetts General Hospital, discusses in what ends up as a deconstruction of the last 30 years of his own and general MS research and of experience in treating patients with the puzzling disorder. A noted authority and a pretty good writer, Weiner deftly summarizes what is currently known about treatments and the potential for a cure. Donna Chavez
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Harmony; Reprint edition (October 25, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307236048
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307236043
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.3 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #447,595 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Dr. Weiner is a great writer, easily understood, kept my interest.
Lonnelle Priest
I recommend this book to any treating physician, patient, family member or friend of someone affected by MS.
K. Rhodes
This book is very informative about the history of MS treatment and research.
Thomas Roherty

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 33 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 2, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I just finished reading, Curing MS, and truly enjoyed it. I rarely read anything about science and have never taken a biology course, but Weiner made the subject very understandable. One of the best things is the way he would periodically repeat certain facts and concepts so I didn't have to go back and look them up. I felt like I was learning things as I went, and when I got to the chapter on the twenty-one points, I realized that I knew quite a bit. For me, the most interesting part (along with the extraordinarily complex and diverse way that MS manifests itself in individuals) was the discussion of the "business" of medicine -- the intense competition somehow coupled with amazing amounts of cooperation. This is quite a journey Weiner has undertaken and he let's us see both the rewards and the frustrations. Because the book is written from a personal point of view, it gives a human face to medicine that I found both reassuring and moving.
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40 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Marjorie S. Ruder on October 16, 2004
Format: Hardcover
After living with MS for eighteen years, I have learned more about the desease I am fighting from reading this book than from any other source of information I have read over the years.

Dr. Weiner's writing style was informative, as well as personal and humane. Dr. Weiner pointed out the reality of the desease yet made the reader aware of progress that has been made in MS research during the last thirty years. His optomistic, yet reality based writing allowed me to enter his personal life , to catch a sense of how driven he is to find the cure for MS.

I encourage anyone who has MS or family and friends of a person with MS to read this book from cover to cover.
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36 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on February 16, 2006
Format: Paperback
My husband has MS and I have read several books now on the subject. This book is great at taking the reader through the process of drug trials and telling them exactly what did not work. The author packs it full of extraneous details like what people were wearing and how often they stopped to take a sip of water. There is no mention of alternate therapies that might be beneficial in the treatment of MS, just drug trials. The author repeats details frequently like he expects people to pick up the book and to begin reading it at some chapter in the middle rather than reading it from cover to cover. If you are looking for a book that offers hope I suggest you skip this one and check out Reversing Multiple Sclerosis by Celeste PePe, D.C., N.D.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Sha on September 29, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I read this book and feel I have learned much about the disease MS. I understood what I was reading as it is written so that a person with no medical background can understand the disease and it's treatments. What I enjoyed most from this read was it had a very human side. It has a story format and introduces you to patients, and you get to know them and their struggles with the disease, their apporaches to new and experimental treatments and you follow through with them and find yourself rooting for them.

Thank you, Dr. Weiner for writing a book that combines both learning and emotion.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Happy Camper on May 13, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book never once mentioned Word One about the impact of diet and nutrition in treating Multiple Schlerosis. Not Once!

I am a firm believer, (based on my own personal experiences with changing my diet and the PROFOUND impact it has had on managing my MS and vastly improving my physical, mental and emotional well being), that diet and nutrition play a pivotal role in treating MS and turning around the outcomes of patients suffering from the ravages of this disease. This book focused solely on medical treatments, and never once made mention about how the foods we put into our mouths can greatly affect our health, ....both good and bad.

My soon-to-be former MS doctor can object all he wants to about this point of diet's impact on medical outcomes, but I strongly defend my stance on the dietary choices I've made to treat this disease, versus injecting my body with dangerous chemicals that do NOTHING to treat the disease....only serving to {sometimes} stop further disease progression.

So any book, no matter how old it is, that does not mention or discuss such crucially important factors as the impact of diet and nutrition on medical outcomes, is not worth the cost of the paper it took to print the book!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Robert W. Smith VINE VOICE on July 1, 2006
Format: Paperback
dr. weiner writes in an entertaining, story-telling format. being one of the premier physicians in this field, it is interesting to read the stories in his book. it is not the typical format for ms coping books, that examines topically symptoms, treatments, coping, etc. the reader interested in the most up-to-date information on drug trials should probably visit internet sites such as the national multiple sclerosis society. in order to get a better understanding of the processes behind the research, this is an excellent book! worth the price, new.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Reader on December 8, 2006
Format: Paperback
As someone living with MS, this is one of the most important books I've read. The author is on the front lines of MS research, and he gives frank and detailed explanations of exactly what is being done to find a "cure" (and what can be considered a "cure"). He helps you understand the real truth behind the two-minute sound bites the national media occasionally hypes regarding MS research. This book is an excellent and important read for anyone interested in the science behind the research.
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