Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic and potentially disabling autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system (CNS). The central nervous system comprises the brain and the spinal cord, which are responsible for transmitting signals between the body and the brain to control various bodily functions.
In MS, the immune system mistakenly attacks the protective covering of nerve fibers, known as myelin, which leads to inflammation and damage to the myelin sheath. This demyelination disrupts the normal transmission of electrical signals along the nerves. Additionally, MS may cause damage to the underlying nerve fibers and, in some cases, result in the formation of scar tissue (sclerosis) at the damaged sites.
The course of multiple sclerosis can be unpredictable, with periods of relapses (exacerbations or flare-ups) followed by periods of remission (partial or complete recovery). Over time, MS may lead to accumulated neurological damage, leading to increasing disability in some individuals.
The cause of multiple sclerosis is not entirely understood, but it is believed to involve a combination of genetic and environmental factors. There is currently no cure for MS, but various disease-modifying therapies and some alternative therapies may help manage the symptoms, reduce the frequency and severity of relapses, and slow the progression of the disease.
What Are Symptoms and Early Signs of Multiple Sclerosis?
Signs and symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) can vary widely among individuals and may depend on the location and extent of nerve damage. Some common signs that may indicate the possibility of MS include:
Vision Problems: Blurred or double vision, pain during eye movement, or partial loss of vision may occur due to inflammation of the optic nerve.
Numbness and Tingling: Sensations of pins and needles, numbness, or a “prickling” feeling in various parts of the body, such as the face, arms, legs, or trunk.
Muscle Weakness: Weakness in the arms or legs, difficulty lifting or holding objects, and problems with coordination and balance.
Fatigue: Extreme tiredness, often unrelated to physical exertion, and a feeling of exhaustion that can interfere with daily activities.
Balance and Coordination Issues: Difficulty walking steadily, stumbling, or experiencing problems with coordination, which may lead to falls.
Bladder and Bowel Problems: Difficulty controlling urination, frequent urination, urgency to urinate, or constipation.
Cognitive Changes: Problems with memory, attention, concentration, and other aspects of cognitive function.
Pain and Spasms: MS can cause various types of pain, including nerve pain, muscle spasms, and general discomfort.
Emotional Changes: Mood swings, depression, anxiety, or emotional lability (rapid shifts in emotions).
Heat Sensitivity: Some individuals with MS experience worsening symptoms when exposed to heat, such as hot weather or hot baths.
It’s important to note that these symptoms are not exclusive to MS and can be associated with other medical conditions as well. Additionally, the course of MS can be unpredictable, with symptoms varying over time, and some individuals may have mild symptoms, while others may experience more severe effects.
If you notice any of these signs or have concerns about your health, it’s essential to consult a healthcare professional who specializes in diagnosing and treating conditions of the nervous system.
Who Do I See if I Think I Have Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis?
If you suspect that you have symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis (MS), it’s important to seek medical attention promptly. The first healthcare professional to consult is usually your primary care physician or family doctor. They will listen to your concerns, conduct a thorough medical history, and perform a physical examination to assess your symptoms and rule out other possible causes.
If your doctor finds the symptoms concerning or suspects neurological involvement, they may refer you to a neurologist, who specializes in diagnosing and treating conditions related to the nervous system. The neurologist will conduct a comprehensive neurological examination, which may include tests to assess your reflexes, coordination, balance, strength, and sensory functions. They may also order additional tests, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain and/or spinal cord, to look for signs of demyelination and other characteristic features of MS.
Based on the results of these evaluations, the neurologist can make a definitive diagnosis and discuss treatment options if MS is confirmed. Early diagnosis is essential to start appropriate treatment and symptom management as soon as possible.
Remember that MS symptoms can mimic those of other conditions, and diagnosing MS can be complex. Therefore, it’s crucial to collaborate closely with healthcare professionals and be open about any symptoms you may be experiencing. They will work together to ensure you receive the most accurate diagnosis and develop a suitable treatment plan tailored to your needs.
What Are Treatment Options for Multiple Sclerosis?
The treatment of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) aims to manage symptoms, slow the progression of the disease, reduce the frequency and severity of relapses, and improve the overall quality of life. The choice of treatment depends on the type of MS, the severity of symptoms, and the individual’s response to therapy. Treatment options for MS can be broadly categorized into the following:
Disease-Modifying Therapies (DMTs): These medications are designed to modify the course of MS by reducing inflammation, decreasing the frequency and severity of relapses, and slowing the progression of disability.
Symptomatic Treatments: These treatments focus on managing specific MS symptoms to improve daily functioning and quality of life. For example, corticosteroids, muscle relaxants, physical, rehabilitation, and occupational therapies, pain medications, lifestyle and diet management.
Regenerative Medicine for Multiple Sclerosis
Regenerative medicine, also known as stem cell therapy, holds promise as a potential future approach for the treatment of Multiple Sclerosis (MS). The field of regenerative medicine aims to repair, replace, or regenerate damaged tissues and organs to restore their normal function. In the context of MS, the focus is on regenerating or repairing the damaged myelin and nerve cells in the central nervous system (CNS).
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have shown promise as a potential therapeutic approach for Multiple Sclerosis (MS) due to their immunomodulatory and regenerative properties. These stem cells can be isolated from various tissues, such as bone marrow, adipose tissue, and umbilical cord tissue, and they possess the ability to differentiate into multiple cell types, including bone, cartilage, and fat cells.
When MSCs are used as a potential treatment for MS, their mechanisms of action may include the following:
Immunomodulation: MSCs have the unique ability to suppress excessive immune responses and regulate the immune system. In MS, the immune system mistakenly attacks the myelin sheath, leading to inflammation and nerve damage. MSCs can help reduce this autoimmune response and limit inflammation by releasing anti-inflammatory molecules and interacting with immune cells.
Anti-Inflammatory Effects: MSCs release a variety of anti-inflammatory factors, such as interleukin-10 (IL-10) and transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-β), which can help reduce the inflammation around the damaged nerves.
Promotion of Myelin Repair: MSCs can support the repair and regeneration of damaged myelin sheaths in the CNS. They release growth factors and other molecules that stimulate the activation and differentiation of cells that promote myelin repair.
Neuroprotection: MSCs have been found to have neuroprotective effects, meaning they can help protect nerve cells from further damage caused by inflammation and oxidative stress.
Reducing Scar Formation: In MS, the formation of scar tissue (sclerosis) can occur at the sites of nerve damage. MSCs have been shown to modulate the formation of scar tissue, which may promote a more favorable environment for nerve repair.
Individuals interested in MSC-based therapies for MS should consult with a regenerative medicine specialist to explore potential treatment options they may have available to them.
Because of its ability to simultaneously activate multiple mechanisms, including paracrine, trophic, immunomodulatory, and differentiation, researchers consider mesenchymal stem cells to be an effective option for stem cell therapy.
After years of active research, bone marrow-derived MSCs (BM-MSCs) have been a prevalent source for MSC-based studies. There is also active research using MSCs from a variety of other sources, including adipose tissue, peripheral and umbilical cord blood, amniotic fluid, skin, dental pulp, synovium, umbilical cord tissue, placental complex, and endometrium.
As part of this review, Arutyunyan et al. review umbilical cord-derived MSCs (UC-MSCs) as a prospective source for MSC-based therapy. More specifically, the authors focus on the potential therapeutic benefits of Wharton’s jelly, the gelatinous substance found in the umbilical cord stroma; of particular interest to researchers is the presence of mesenchymal-derived cells, including stem cells, with the absence of capillaries.
When studied in vitro, researchers found UC-MSCs demonstrated the ability to differentiate into a wide range of cells, including chondrocytes, adipocytes, osteoblasts, odontoblast-like cells, dermal fibroblasts, smooth muscle cells, and somatostatin-producing cells, sweat gland cells, endothelial cells, neuroglia cells, and dopaminergic neurons.
While it’s well known that MSCs produce a variety of bioactive compounds that supply a paracrine mechanism for their therapeutic activity, researchers have learned that UC-MSCs secretomes differ significantly from MSCs from bone marrow and adipose. Specifically, the most significant difference is UC-MSCs’ nearly complete absence of synthesis of the main proangiogenic factor, VEGF-A. UC-MSCs also demonstrate increased production of antiangiogenic factors when compared to BM-MSCs and AT-MSCs.
UC-MSCs have recently demonstrated the ability to transfer their own mitochondria into mitochondrial DNA-depleted cells. This observation has broad implications for the therapeutic potential of UC-MSCs, primarily due to the failure of mitochondria as an initial event in many diseases. In this regard, the authors conclude that the transfer of mitochondria provides a rationale for the therapeutic use of UC-MSCs for ischemic injury or disease linked to mitochondrial dysfunction.
Arutyunyan et al. found recent animal model preclinical studies regarding the use of UC-MSCs for the treatment of different diseases demonstrated promising results. Additionally, clinical studies involving UC-MSCs demonstrated to be safe with no significant side effects other than fever.
While the authors point out concern with the lack of standardized protocols for the isolation and expansion of UC-MSCs and of uniform requirements for the final product. Despite these concerns, the authors also conclude that the results of clinical trials using UC-MSCs are encouraging, particularly for the treatment of autoimmune and endocrine diseases.
“Post-stroke” or “post-stroke period” refers to the period of time following a stroke. A stroke occurs when there is a sudden disruption of blood flow to a part of the brain, leading to brain cell damage and, potentially, the death of brain tissue. The severity and specific consequences of a stroke depend on various factors, such as the type of stroke (ischemic or hemorrhagic) and the location and size of the affected brain area.
The post-stroke period is a critical time for stroke survivors as they begin their recovery and rehabilitation journey. During this period, individuals may experience a range of physical, cognitive, emotional, and social challenges. The post-stroke phase can vary in duration and intensity depending on the extent of brain damage and the effectiveness of treatment and rehabilitation.
Some common aspects and challenges of the post-stroke period include:
Medical stabilization: In the immediate aftermath of a stroke, medical professionals focus on stabilizing the patient, preventing further damage, and addressing any potential complications.
Acute care and rehabilitation: Once the individual’s condition is stable, they may undergo rehabilitation, which may involve physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and other specialized treatments to help restore lost functions and improve independence.
Physical recovery: Many stroke survivors experience weakness, paralysis, or difficulty with mobility. Physical therapy aims to help them regain strength, balance, and coordination.
Cognitive recovery: Depending on the area of the brain affected, stroke survivors may experience difficulties with memory, attention, language, and problem-solving. Cognitive rehabilitation can assist in addressing these issues.
Emotional and psychological support: Stroke can have significant emotional and psychological impacts. Depression, anxiety, and frustration are not uncommon during the post-stroke period.
Social reintegration: Stroke survivors may face challenges in reintegrating into their communities and resuming their daily activities. Support from family, friends, and support groups can be essential during this phase.
Long-term management: For some individuals, the effects of a stroke may be permanent, necessitating ongoing care and management of any residual disabilities or health issues.
The post-stroke period is highly individual, and recovery outcomes can vary widely from person to person. Early intervention, rehabilitation, and ongoing support play vital roles in improving the quality of life for stroke survivors.
Diagnosing a stroke typically involves a combination of clinical evaluation, medical history assessment, and imaging tests. Rapid and accurate diagnosis is crucial because time is of the essence when it comes to stroke treatment.
The faster a stroke is diagnosed and treated, the better the chances of minimizing brain damage and improving outcomes.
What Are The Different Types of Stroke?
There are two main types of strokes: ischemic stroke and hemorrhagic stroke. Each type has different underlying causes:
Ischemic strokes account for about 85% of all strokes and occur when there is a blockage or narrowing of a blood vessel supplying blood to the brain. This blockage can be due to a blood clot (thrombus) that forms within a blood vessel in the brain (cerebral thrombosis) or elsewhere in the body and travels to the brain (cerebral embolism).
Common risk factors for ischemic stroke include atherosclerosis (the buildup of fatty deposits in the blood vessels), high blood pressure (hypertension), diabetes, high cholesterol levels, smoking, and certain heart conditions such as atrial fibrillation.
Hemorrhagic strokes occur when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures, causing bleeding into or around the brain tissue. The bleeding puts pressure on brain cells and can damage them.
The two main types of hemorrhagic stroke are intracerebral hemorrhage (bleeding within the brain) and subarachnoid hemorrhage (bleeding into the space between the brain and the thin tissues that cover it).
Hypertension is a significant risk factor for hemorrhagic stroke, as it can weaken blood vessel walls over time. Other risk factors include brain aneurysms, arteriovenous malformations (AVMs), and certain blood-thinning medications.
How Can I Avoid a Potential Stroke?
It’s important to note that certain lifestyle factors and medical conditions can increase the risk of stroke. These include:
How Do You Know If You Are Having or Have Had a Stroke?
If you suspect someone is having a stroke or experience symptoms yourself, it’s crucial to seek immediate medical attention as prompt treatment can minimize brain damage and improve outcomes. Remember, “FAST” is a simple way to remember the most common symptoms of a stroke:
F – Face drooping A – Arm weakness S – Speech difficulty T – Time to call emergency services.
Recognizing the symptoms of a stroke is crucial because immediate medical attention can greatly improve the chances of minimizing brain damage and improving outcomes. The symptoms of a stroke can vary depending on the type of stroke (ischemic or hemorrhagic) and the part of the brain affected.
Here are some common signs and symptoms of a stroke:
Sudden numbness or weakness: You may experience sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, typically affecting one side of the body. A common indicator is drooping on one side of the face when trying to smile.
Trouble speaking or understanding speech: You might have difficulty speaking coherently or understanding what others are saying. Your speech may become slurred or difficult to comprehend.
Confusion or trouble with comprehension: You may feel confused, disoriented, or have difficulty understanding simple instructions or questions.
Sudden severe headache: A sudden, severe headache that is different from any previous headaches you’ve experienced may be a warning sign of a stroke, especially if it’s accompanied by other symptoms.
Trouble with vision: You may experience sudden blurred or double vision or have trouble seeing out of one or both eyes.
Dizziness or loss of balance: You may feel dizzy, lightheaded, or have trouble maintaining your balance, leading to difficulty walking or coordination problems.
hemorrhagic strokes) to prevent further damage to the brain. Rehabilitation and support following a stroke are also essential for recovery and regaining function.
What Treatments Are There for Post Stroke Care?
Post-stroke care focuses on the rehabilitation and management of stroke survivors to improve their physical, cognitive, emotional, and social functioning. The specific treatments for post-stroke care depend on the individual’s needs and the extent of the stroke’s impact. Here are some common components of post-stroke care and treatments:
Emotional support and counseling
Social and vocational support
Post-stroke care is often a multidisciplinary approach, involving a team of healthcare professionals working together to develop a personalized treatment plan. The goal is to maximize the individual’s functional recovery, promote independence, and enhance their overall quality of life after a stroke. As each stroke survivor’s situation is unique, the treatment plan will be tailored to their specific needs and abilities. Regular follow-up appointments and ongoing support are essential components of post-stroke care to monitor progress and adjust treatment as necessary.
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are unique cells that have the ability to differentiate into different cell types and self-renew, meaning they can produce more stem cells. MSCs are a type of adult stem cell found in various tissues, such as bone marrow and adipose (fat) tissue. They have the unique ability to differentiate into different cell types and secrete bioactive molecules that can promote tissue repair and modulate the immune response.
In the context of post-stroke care, MSC therapy aims to harness the regenerative and immunomodulatory properties of these stem cells to potentially enhance neurological recovery and reduce post-stroke complications.
Several preclinical studies and early-phase clinical trials have investigated the safety and potential benefits of MSC therapy for stroke. Here are some potential ways MSCs might exert beneficial effects in post-stroke patients:
Neuroprotection: MSCs have been shown to secrete factors that protect neurons from further damage and promote cell survival in animal models of stroke.
Anti-inflammatory effects: After a stroke, inflammation in the brain can exacerbate damage. MSCs can modulate the immune response, reducing harmful inflammation and promoting a more favorable environment for recovery.
Angiogenesis: MSCs can support the formation of new blood vessels (angiogenesis) in damaged brain tissue, improving blood flow and oxygen supply to the affected areas.
Neuroplasticity: MSCs may help enhance brain plasticity, which is the brain’s ability to reorganize and form new neural connections, potentially aiding recovery and functional improvements.
If you or someone you know is interested in exploring this alternative medicine, work with a regenerative medicine specialist who can help provide detailed information about the options available to them.
Kidney disease, also known as renal disease or nephropathy, refers to a condition in which the kidneys are damaged or unable to function properly. The kidneys play a crucial role in filtering waste products, excess fluid, and toxins from the blood, while also maintaining the body’s electrolyte balance and producing important hormones. When kidney disease occurs, these vital functions are compromised, leading to a range of complications.
What Causes Kidney Disease?
Kidney disease can affect people of all ages and backgrounds. Kidney disease can have various causes, and understanding these underlying factors is crucial in managing the condition effectively. There are several primary causes of kidney disease:
Diabetes: Diabetes is a leading cause of kidney disease. High blood sugar levels can damage the blood vessels in the kidneys over time, impairing their ability to function properly. This condition, known as diabetic nephropathy, can progress to chronic kidney disease and ultimately lead to kidney failure.
Hypertension (High Blood Pressure): Uncontrolled high blood pressure puts excessive strain on the blood vessels in the kidneys, leading to their damage. Over time, this can result in chronic kidney disease. Conversely, kidney disease can also cause hypertension, creating a harmful cycle.
Glomerulonephritis: Glomerulonephritis refers to inflammation of the glomeruli, which are tiny filters in the kidneys responsible for removing waste from the blood. This inflammation can be triggered by infections, autoimmune disorders, or certain medications, leading to kidney damage and impaired function.
Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD): PKD is a genetic disorder characterized by the growth of fluid-filled cysts in the kidneys. These cysts gradually enlarge and interfere with kidney function, ultimately leading to kidney failure.
Urinary Tract Obstruction: Kidney disease can also result from obstructions in the urinary tract, such as kidney stones, tumors, or an enlarged prostate gland. These blockages can disrupt the normal flow of urine, causing kidney damage and infection.
Infections: Severe or recurrent kidney infections, such as pyelonephritis, can cause inflammation and scarring of the kidneys. If left untreated, these infections can lead to chronic kidney disease.
Medications and Toxins: Certain medications and toxins can damage the kidneys if used improperly or in excessive amounts. Examples include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), certain antibiotics, and illicit drugs.
It’s important to note that some individuals may have a combination of risk factors that contribute to kidney disease. Additionally, early detection, regular monitoring, and proper management of these underlying causes can significantly slow the progression of kidney disease and help preserve kidney function.
What Are the Symptoms?
The symptoms of kidney disease may vary depending on the stage and underlying cause but often include fatigue, swelling in the legs and ankles, frequent urination, foamy or bloody urine, persistent itching, and high blood pressure. However, in the early stages, kidney disease may be asymptomatic, making early detection and regular screening crucial, especially for individuals with risk factors.
If you suspect that you have kidney disease, it is crucial to take immediate action and seek medical attention. If kidney disease is diagnosed, it is vital to follow the advice and treatment plan provided by your healthcare professional.
Kidney disease requires ongoing monitoring to assess kidney function, evaluate the progression of the disease, and adjust treatment if necessary. Your healthcare professional will schedule regular follow-up appointments to review your progress, conduct further tests as needed, and make any necessary adjustments to your treatment plan.
Coping with a chronic condition like kidney disease can be emotionally challenging. Consider reaching out to friends, family, or support groups who can provide encouragement, share experiences, and offer practical advice. Support from others who understand the journey can be invaluable.
Left untreated, kidney disease can lead to serious complications such as fluid retention, electrolyte imbalances, anemia, bone disorders, cardiovascular problems, and ultimately kidney failure. In end-stage renal disease, patients may require dialysis or a kidney transplant to sustain life.
What are Kidney Disease Treatments?
Management of kidney disease involves a combination of lifestyle modifications, medication, and, in some cases, medical procedures. Treatment aims to slow the progression of the disease, control symptoms, and prevent complications. Lifestyle changes may include maintaining a healthy diet with controlled salt and protein intake, staying adequately hydrated, exercising regularly, managing blood pressure and blood sugar levels, and avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.
MSC therapy has shown promising potential for the treatment of kidney diseases. MSCs are a type of adult stem cell that can be isolated from various sources, including bone marrow, adipose tissue, and umbilical cord tissue.
In the context of kidney disease, stem cells have been studied for their regenerative and immunomodulatory properties. They have the ability to differentiate into different cell types, including kidney cells, and can also release various growth factors and cytokines that promote tissue repair and modulate the immune response. Here are some key points regarding the potential of MSC therapy for kidney disease:
Acute Kidney Injury (AKI): MSC therapy has been investigated as a potential treatment for AKI, a sudden loss of kidney function. Studies have shown that MSCs can enhance kidney repair, reduce inflammation, and improve kidney function in animal models of AKI. Clinical trials are underway to evaluate the safety and efficacy of MSC therapy for AKI in humans.
Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD): MSC therapy holds promise for the treatment of CKD, a progressive loss of kidney function over time. MSCs have been shown to have beneficial effects on renal fibrosis, inflammation, and oxidative stress, which are key factors in CKD progression. Preclinical studies have demonstrated that MSCs can ameliorate kidney damage and improve kidney function in animal models of CKD.
Immune modulation: MSCs possess immunomodulatory properties, which can be advantageous in kidney diseases with an immune component, such as autoimmune kidney diseases (e.g., lupus nephritis). MSCs can suppress abnormal immune responses, reduce inflammation, and promote tissue repair, thereby potentially mitigating the immune-mediated damage to the kidneys.
Safety and Delivery: MSC therapy has been generally considered safe, with no significant adverse effects reported in studies. Delivery methods vary but may include intravenous infusion or direct injection into the renal tissue during surgical procedures.
Kidney disease is a condition characterized by impaired kidney function, which can arise from various causes. Early detection, regular monitoring, and appropriate management are essential to slow the progression of the disease, maintain kidney function, and prevent complications. It is important for individuals with risk factors or concerning symptoms to seek medical attention for proper evaluation and treatment.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common and widespread form of arthritis, affecting an estimated 655 million people worldwide. Occurring as a result of cartilage degeneration, OA is a progressive degenerative disorder that most commonly affects the joints of the hands, hips, knees, and spine.
Although OA can affect anyone, it is most commonly observed in older patients. In fact, all individuals over the age of 65 are believed to demonstrate some clinical or radiographic evidence of OA.
While surgical and pharmaceutical treatment options for OA exist as a way to manage the symptoms and progression of the disease, treatment for the restoration of normal cartilage function has yet to be achieved.
Considering the tissue of joint cartilage is composed primarily of chondrocytes found in bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (BMSCs), using these specific stem cells appears to have significant potential for use in the therapeutic regeneration of cartilage.
In this review, Gupta et al. evaluate the advances in using BMSCs and their therapeutic potential for repairing cartilage damage in OA. Evaluating current research, the authors point out that one of the key characteristics of MSCs, including BMSCs, is that they are generally hypoimmunogenic and possess immunosuppressive activity, suggesting that BMSCs could be used as allogeneic applications for cartilage repair.
Preclinical models of OA have also demonstrated that the effects of MSC transplantation have been effective for cartilage repair. Additionally, clinical models have reported on the safety and positive therapeutic effects of MNSC administration in patients with OA.
The authors point out that while the exact mechanism by which BMSCs regenerate articular cartilage in patients with OA is not clear, their ability to induce proliferation and tissue-specific differentiation appears to aid in the repair of damaged cartilage.
The ability of BMSCs to migrate and engraft onto multiple musculoskeletal tissues and differentiate at the site of injury while demonstrating anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive properties demonstrate their potential as a therapeutic treatment for degenerative diseases like OA.
While the information provided in this review demonstrates the potential of BMSCs to support treatment and recovery from the damage caused because of OA, Gupta et al. call for additional clinical studies to assess the curative properties and long-term outcome of using MCSCs for the treatment of OA before they can be used routinely as a clinical treatment for the condition.
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