Common Medications May Hold Key to Treating Multiple Sclerosis

MAY 03, 2015
Multiple sclerosis (MS) affects more than 2.3 million individuals worldwide. Anyone diagnosed with MS may experience different symptom severity, progressing from minor tingling and numbness to total muscle paralysis.
 
MS is an autoimmune disease which affects the transmission of signals between nerve cells. Nerve fibers are insulated by a protective coating called myelin, which allows for incredibly fast transmission of signals through them.
 
In MS, this insulation is gradually destroyed, leaving the nerves unprotected. Without this insulation, the nerves begin to deteriorate, causing a progressive numbness, tingling, and eventual paralysis of the muscles.
 
Recently, a study found 2 common medications, miconazole and clobetasol, may play a role in helping the body develop cells that produce myelin. If nerve cells are stimulated to repair the damaged nerve fibers, then this process may slow or even reverse the progression of a neurological disorder.
 
Clobetasol have been shown to positively stimulate the cells responsible for remyelination of the nerve fibers, while miconazole has been shown to directly stimulate remyelination.
 
The results of this particular study showed significantly increased development of myelin and decreased disease severity with the administration of these 2 medications. The majority of mice in the study showed a reversal of their muscular symptoms as evidenced by increased use of their limbs.
 
Currently, both miconazole and clobetasol are only available as topical medications in the United States. Dosing optimization and side effect studies will need to be performed before either of these medications receive approval for use in a clinical trial; however, significant interest in their newfound potential may expedite the process.
 
Given intravenously, both clobetasol and miconazole have the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier and enter the central nervous system. It is encouraging to think one of these medications or a similar derivative may someday be involved in a human clinical trial aimed at treating MS.
 
References:
Drug Based Modulation of Endogenous Stem Cells Promotes Functional Remyelination in vivo
Drugs that activate brain stem cells may reverse multiple sclerosis


Steve Leuck, PharmD
Steve Leuck, PharmD
Steve Leuck, PharmD, has been practicing both hospital and community pharmacy for over 30 years. He founded AudibleRx, in 2011, which provides Consumer Medication Information which is both Useful and Accessible. Content designed to meet health literacy guidelines. Format designed to "read along" with the audio presentation in a simple to use web application. More information at AudibleRx.org.
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