Multiple sclerosis can seem like the cruelest disease. We’ve all heard of cases where a young adult, once in the bloom of health, becomes disabled and confined to a wheelchair. And while it’s true that MS attacks healthy young people, fortunately very few cases lead to rapid disability. By far the common MS “story” is one of flare-ups followed by very long disease-free periods, so that disability, if it does occur at all, may not happen for decades. Although the cause of MS remains unknown, physicians believe it’s an autoimmune disease, where the immune system winds up attacking its own central nervous system. Doctors are far less helpless in the face of MS than they once were. Disease “modifiers” such as the interferon-based medications Betaseron or Avonex and the drug glatiramer acetate (Copaxone), all have been shown to reduce flare-up rates dramatically and delay the time to disability.