Allergy drug improves function in patients with chronic injury from multiple sclerosis


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According to Medical Xpress

Allergy drug improves function in patients with chronic injury from multiple sclerosis

An MRI scan shows the brain of a person with multiple sclerosis. Credit: NIH

In a remarkably rapid translation of laboratory research findings into a treatment with the potential to benefit patients, UC San Francisco scientists have successfully completed a Phase II clinical trial showing that an FDA-approved antihistamine restores nervous system function in patients with chronic multiple sclerosis (MS).

In light of previous laboratory studies of the antihistamine compound at UCSF, the researchers said, the drug most likely exerted its effect by repairing damage MS had inflicted on , an insulating membrane that speeds transmission of electrical signals in the nervous system.

The drug tested in the trial, clemastine fumarate, was first identified as a candidate treatment for MS in 2013 by UCSF’s Jonah R. Chan, PhD, Debbie and Andy Rachleff Distinguished Professor of Neurology, vice chief of the Division of Neuroinflammation and Glial Biology, and senior author of the new study. First approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1977 for allergies, the drug has been available over the counter in generic form since 1993.

The researchers said that the Phase II results, published online on Oct. 10, 2017, in The Lancet, are the first in which a drug has been shown to reliably restore any brain function damaged by a neurological disease in human patients.

“To the best of our knowledge this is the first time a therapy has been able to reverse deficits caused by MS. It’s not a cure, but it’s a first step towards restoring brain function to the millions who are affected by this chronic, debilitating disease,” said the trial’s principal investigator, Ari Green, MD, also Debbie and Andy Rachleff Distinguished Professor of Neurology, chief of the Division of Neuroinflammation and Glial Biology, and medical director of the UCSF Multiple Sclerosis and Neuroinflammation Center.

Chan and Green are co-directors of the UCSF Small-Molecule Program for Remyelination, and both are members of the UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences.

The new results are particularly notable, Chan said, because patients in the trial had suffered from MS symptoms caused by injury to myelin for years. “People thought we were absolutely crazy to launch this trial, because they thought that only in newly diagnosed cases could a drug like this be effective – intuitively, if myelin damage is new, the chance of repair is strong. In the patients in our trial the disease had gone on for years, but we still saw strong evidence of repair.”

 

MS Affects Millions Worldwide

MS is an autoimmune neurodegenerative disorder that affects nearly 2.5 million people worldwide. The disease strikes when the immune system attacks myelin, layers of fatty insulating membrane that surround nerve fibers. Unlike the rubber insulation around wires, however, myelin helps electrical signals in neurons move faster and more efficiently. As myelin damage continues over the course of the disease, neurons progressively lose their ability to reliably transmit , resulting in progressive loss of vision, weakness, walking difficulties, and problems with coordination and balance.

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This article and images were originally posted on [Medical Xpress] October 11, 2017 at 07:38AM

Credit to Author and Medical Xpress

 

 

 

 

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