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Saturday, May 1, 2010

Statins a Possible Treatment to Slow the Progression of MS

Source: MSFYi - April e-newsletter

A study examining the impact of statins on the progression of MS found a lower incidence of new brain lesions in patients taking the cholesterol-lowering drug in the early stages of the disease as compared to a placebo. Study participants received an 80 milligram daily dose of atorvastatin, marketed by Pfizer as Lipitor®.

The study was small, with 81 participants. Though its primary endpoint (designed to evaluate MS progression in people following their first attack) was not met, the researchers found over the 12-month course that about 55 percent of participants did not develop new brain lesions when administered statins compared with about 27 percent of the placebo group.

Study findings were presented by University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) researchers during the recent annual American Academy of Neurology scientific meeting in Toronto.

The trial was a phase II, multi-center, randomized, placebo-controlled follow up to a landmark study published by principal investigator Scott S. Zamvil, M.D., PhD, associate professor of neurology at UCSF. His laboratory first observed that statins cause T cell immune modulation that could be beneficial in MS and other autoimmune diseases. That study tested whether the drug could be used to prevent conversion to definite MS in individuals who have had a first attack.

"Our data is preliminary, and we need a larger study to confirm the effects of the drug and its magnitude. It is important that we understand how statins impact the progression of multiple sclerosis in order to better inform physicians and patients of their effect since these drugs are so broadly used throughout the United States and the world, and to learn whether a relatively inexpensive oral therapy can slow the course of disease," said Waubant.

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