MSplus shares preliminary trial findings
Academy of Neurology published findings about people with multiple sclerosis (MS) and chronic vision damage. A common antihistamine, called clemastine
fumarate, is used to treat symptoms of allergies and the common cold.
Clemastine fumarate partially reversed damage to the visual system in people
with multiple sclerosis in a preliminary study.
The following is the article, which was published by Science Daily, and
can be found at https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/04/160412211123.htm#.V2g6eIEmy94.email
Over-the-counter drug may reverse chronic vision
damage caused by multiple sclerosis
A common antihistamine used to treat
symptoms of allergies and the common cold, called clemastine fumarate,
partially reversed damage to the visual system in people with multiple
sclerosis (MS) in a preliminary study released today that was presented at the
American Academy of Neurology's 68th Annual Meeting in Vancouver, Canada, April
The study involved people with MS and
optic neuropathy, which is damage to the nerve that sends information from the
eye to the brain. In people with MS, the immune system destroys myelin, the
protective coating around the nerves, which then leads to damage along the
nerves, slowing signals to and from the brain. Optic nerve damage is a common
consequence of the disease.
"This study is exciting because
it is the first to demonstrate possible repair of that protective coating in
people with chronic demyelination from MS," said study author Ari Green,
MD, of the Multiple Sclerosis Center at UC San Francisco, and a member of the
American Academy of Neurology. "This was done using a drug that was
identified at UCSF only two-and-a-half years ago as an agent with the potential
to help with brain repair."
The five-month study involved 50
people with an average age of 40 who had MS for an average of five years and
had mild disability. They all had evidence of a stable chronic optic
neuropathy, meaning that they were not recovering from a recent optic neuritis.
Participants performed vision tests
at the start and end of the study. For one test, called a visual evoked
potential, the time for transmission of signal from the retina to the visual
cortex was recorded. To be included in the study, participants had to have a
delay in transmission time beyond 118 milliseconds in at least one eye and had
to have evidence that they had an adequate number of nerve fibers to
reinsulate. An improvement in the delay in transmission is considered a
biomarker of myelin repair.
For the first three months of the
study, people were given either the antihistamine clemastine fumarate or a
placebo. For the second two months, those initially given the drug received the
placebo and vice versa.
During the study, delays were reduced
by an average of slightly less than two milliseconds in each eye per patient
among those who received the antihistamine.
"While the improvement in vision
appears modest, this study is promising because it is the first time a drug has
been shown to possibly reverse the damage done by MS," said Green.
"Findings are preliminary, but this study provides a framework for future
MS repair studies and will hopefully herald discoveries that will enhance the
brain's innate capacity for repair."
Study participants did report a
modest increase in fatigue while taking the drug.
Green cautioned that more research
with larger numbers of people is needed before doctors can recommend clemastine
fumarate for people with MS, and that newer medications capable of even more
powerful effects are in development, including efforts intended to improve the
targeting and reduce side effects from these drugs.
The above post is reprinted from materials provided
Academy of Neurology.