Multiple Sclerosis Research:First Drug Shown To Promote Remyelination

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a demyelinating disease in which the insulating covers of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord are damaged. We hear about ‘breakthroughs’ frequently in MS, and mostly of course, they are not! On this occasion, despite the drug that researchers were testing being an old drug commonly prescribed for hayfever, they found definite evidence of improved neurological function after taking the drug, and the improvement persisted when the drug was stopped. It seems highly likely, given what the researchers have previously tested, that the drug promoted remyelination, something which no agent has previously been able to do.

Multiple Sclerosis Research team at University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), led by Prof Jonah Chan tested the drug clemastine (trade name Tavist) which has been licensed by the FDA for 40 years now for use in hayfever and allergies and is now a cheap generic. Importantly they tested the drug in people with chronic longstanding MS who had quite a bit of central nervous system damage.

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