If it cheers you up any, speaking of stomachs, how long did it take to figure out stomach ulcers were caused by Helicobacter pylori and treatable with antibiotics? I can remember within the last 15-20 years running across sufferers of stomach ulcers, painful, debilitating, condemed to ultra bland diets and swilling bottles of antacid. And now? I don't know anyone with a stomach ulcer. I don't know the exact magic year of discovery, having not suffered personally. Earliest PubMed abstracts are from 1989. I remember reading that to prove causation, a researcher deliberately infected himself with the bug, got imaging on his ulcer, and then treated himself with antibiotics and was cured, did more imaging to prove it. There was such a fixation on diet, bad psychological stress, excess stomach acid, etc causing stomach ulcers for decades that to prove to the medical community it was an infection took some drama to show it was so simple. Now you go in with an upper GI complaint and your doctor orders an H. pylori test right away. I'm glad on one level, but it seems embarrassing that it took so long.
On the MS front in the early 20th century, MS patients (usually the female ones) were thought to be hysterical; all those weird neurological symptoms that came and went just couldn't be REAL. We've come a long way, baby.
MS is still rotten. It had to be worse back in the good old days when everyone believed you were just acting out.
I'm also discouraged about shooting in the dark, but unfortunately that is where we all still are at with MS. We would all rather not be here, but here we are. I totally agree, Bromley, that a fundamental improved understanding of what causes MS is critical to identifying better treatments.
As sad as the state of affairs is for MS, we are not unique in our frustration - we share the bitter plate with ALS, Parkinson's, Alzhiemer's, lupus, certain forms of arthritis, and a whole host of other people with rare neurodegenerative diseases, like Huntington's (HD). Some of the diseases like HD have their gene identified, and it still hasn't made for a real treatment breakthrough, which for people with that disease has got to be doubly frustrating in a different sort of way than MS. I don't count cancer in the same category with degenerative diseases - it has a different set of dynamics.
Not that having a lot of company in illness really makes anyone feel better, nor should it. But research into other diseases like adrenoleukodystrophy has turned up what might be some clues for MS, or at least new ways of thinking about MS. I personally believe that somewhere in the MS causation is a cluster of subtle metabolic defects, some of which have immunological components which might cause an aberrant response to a pathogen (like Cpn or other bugs) OR to self, others cause other effects, but the root cause is ultimately metabolic, and perhaps fixable with available knowledge. An additional complication is most likely not all people with MS have the same mix of genetic factors. Can I prove it by myself? No. Can I be totally wrong? Yes. But I might as well plug away at my own personal genetics project because no one else is going to. And my idea is certainly not unique. As we post here, researchers are scanning for candidate genes in MS families, trying to hone in. There is DNA sequencing and computing power now that did not exist ten years ago.
"Chance favors the prepared mind." (Pasteur, I think Somebody famous said that.) If I have any hope at this point, it is in the power of the exchange of information. As seemingly fruitless as our searching and posting seem at times, people have posted information that has made me explore, learn new things, and think. And I post back and hopefully give other people something to think about. I'm getting ready to email to some researchers who have published. There is a lot of brain power on this site of people thinking on different angles. We get to scan wide and consider a lot of possibilities for MS causation, because for better or worse, it is a wide open field. And maybe there will soon be an intersect with the population genetics research and the observational clinical characteristics of MS patients that will open a path forward.
Hang in there. Keep posting, everybody. Think of stomach ulcers, that once incurable gnawing misery.