In a new study, researchers found that statins could help treat patients who have secondary progressive Multiple Sclerosis (MS).
The effect may be unrelated to the drug’s role in lowering cholesterol levels.
The research was done by a team from University College London.
People with MS usually develop a progressive form of the condition. It can lead to problems with how people walk, move, see, think, and feel.
Currently, there is no cure for MS.
Previous research has shown that statins are widely used to treat high cholesterol, and can be taken daily as an oral tablet.
Statins have an effect on the nervous system in protecting the nerves, and it can also act as an anti-inflammatory treatment.
In the study, the team used data from a previous study in UCL.
in that study, a total of 140 people with secondary progressive MS either take a high dose of statins (80mg a day) or a placebo for two years. The patients were aged 18-65.
They found that in people taking simvastatin, brain volume loss was 43% less compared with those taking placebo.
These people also had less disability and better quality of life.
In the current study, the team used computational models to re-analyze the data. They aimed to find the cause of that benefit.
They found that statins’ effect on MS patients were largely independent of cholesterol.
This means statins can help patients with MS for reasons different from how they help people lower their cholesterol.
Although this study cannot provide a final answer as to what exactly is the reason for the success of statins in progressive MS, it can direct future researchers toward certain pathways.
It may help find better drugs for an incurable disease such as MS.
The lead author of the study is Dr. Arman Eshaghi (UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology).
The study is published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
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