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26th Nov 2015: Multiple Sclerosis; Scotland’s Disease by Alex Dunedin

Come along to The Counting House at 7pm to hear to Alex, share a crust of bread, and learn about Multiple Sclerosis…


Title of talk:

Multiple Sclerosis: Scotland’s Disease

Multiple Sclerosis
MRI Scan of a Multiple Sclerosis Brain

Bullet points of what you would like to talk about:

  • What is multiple sclerosis
  • Multiple sclerosis is most common in Scotland
  • Advances in the understanding of the condition
  • A theory about the missing nitrogen – a feature of multiple sclerosis
  • A possible treatment ?

A few paragraphs on your subject:

I am passionate about biochemistry and medicine. Over the years, having developed many friends in the area of pharmacy and medicine, I have created a literature review in my attempt to understand more about the disease multiple sclerosis. I was fascinated to discover that Scotland is the place where you find the greatest concentration of the disease.

For many years Multiple Sclerosis was an ‘invisible’ illness which doctors did not know how to diagnose or study; but now it is identified and measured by Magnetic Resonance Imaging – effectively use of large magnets. Much more women are affected by it than men, which is another interesting characteristic of the condition. I will be exploring ideas about what causes and triggers this in particular to the geography and sex preference of women.

For many years it was thought to be an extended form of measles, and there is still considerable study around looking at the immunological aspects. How do we unpick the many different factors which are found in association with multiple sclerosis.

It is a vastly misunderstood condition with many myths prevailing. I will be talking about the ‘pathophysiology’ of the condition (the physical nature of the disease) explaining in straight forward terms what happens to the tissues which are affected. Primarily, there is demyelination (loss of myelin around the nerves) of the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord).

I will be exploring what is known about the causes and effects of multiple sclerosis in this talk, and discussing the idea of missing proteins in context with how we treat the condition. This all leads to a discussion of how we know what we think we know about science, and the idea of presenting theories.

A few paragraphs about you:

I am someone who fell in love with libraries from the moment I realised that somewhere in these fantastic places, there is written an idea-fact-document on everything. At first, I became interested in the strange language and jargon which we find on the labelling of food, curious about what ascorbic acid (vitamin c) or polyunsaturated fats were. This lead me to investigate the science books, and in particular medicine. The same disciplines explore the same phenomena – the body is studied and described in many different ways, and in our age, it is all accessible to us. This was the beginning of my long journey of learning a grand tradition which spans millenia.

From the Hippocratic Oath, to the discovery of acetic acid (vinegar) one of the first purified solvents in chemistry, I was hooked with learning about the make up of our natural world and beings. The idea that I can open a book which examines the heart, for example, and tells me centuries worth of knowledge, from how it is constructed with muscles, to the atomic structure of molecules which make it work, is fascinating.

I have spent nearly two decades studying the natural science of medicine and biochemistry because it is so relevant and accessible. I believe in open scientific method, and that everyone is capable of learning the content of medicine. I hope to show this in my talk, finding ways of communicating what is happening in multiple sclerosis to the general listener.

What free internet knowledge resources would you recommend to others if they wish to explore your chosen theme further?

PubMed Central® (PMC) is a free full-text archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literature at the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine (NIH/NLM):

Google Scholar provides a simple way to broadly search for scholarly literature. From one place, you can search across many disciplines and sources: articles, theses, books, abstracts and court opinions, from academic publishers, professional societies, online repositories, universities and other web sites. Google Scholar helps you find relevant work across the world of scholarly research:

KEGG PATHWAY is a collection of manually drawn pathway maps representing our knowledge on the molecular interaction and reaction networks:

The BNF is a joint publication of the British Medical Association and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society. It is published biannually under the authority of a Joint Formulary Committee which comprises representatives of the two professional bodies, the UK Health Departments, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, and a national guideline producer:

PNAS is one of the world’s most-cited and comprehensive multidisciplinary scientific journals, publishing more than 3,800 research papers annually. The journal’s content spans the biological, physical, and social sciences and is global in scope. Nearly half of all accepted papers come from authors outside the United States:

What are your weblinks?

Website – Multiple Sclerosis Thesis

Facebook – Alex Dunedin

Public Email – [email protected](dot)com

Any others….


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