New Drugs Fight Root Cause of Multiple Sclerosis

Two new drugs showed significant reversal of disease severity.

Two new drugs showed significant reversal of disease severity.

A pair of experimental drugs for multiple sclerosis (MS) were found to treat the disease at the source with a significant reversal of the severity of the disease.

In a study published recently in the journal Nature, researchers sought to prevent neural degeneration, which requires remyelination by new oligodendrocytes to create the myelin sheath. The 2 drugs, miconazole and clobetasol, were found to increase the number of new oligodendrocytes, which subsequently enhanced remyelination.

"Current therapies focus on stopping immune system attacks, slowing the progression of the disease. Our research is focused on trying to repair the brain itself, to stop the disease rather than slow it," study co-author Robert Miller, PhD, said in a press release. "While successful in vivo, we're looking forward to continuing our research through further testing of miconazole and clobetasol, taking the next steps to finding treatments for MS."

The 2 therapeutic compounds enhance myelination from oligodendrocyte progenitor, which are stem cells in the central nervous system that are the main source of myelinating oligodendrocytes.

The researchers found 7 drugs that enhance the generation of mature oligodendrocytes, which further revealed that miconazole and clobetasol are capable of promoting myelination. Miconazole was able to function as a remyelinating drug that didn’t impact the immune system, while clobetasol served as a potent immunosuppressant, in addition to functioning as a remyelinating agent.

"To replace damaged cells, much of the stem cell field has focused on direct transplantation of stem cell-derived tissues for regenerative medicine, and that approach is likely to provide enormous benefit down the road," co-author Paul Tesar, PhD, said in a press release. "But here we asked if we could find a faster and less invasive approach by using drugs to activate native stem cells already in the adult nervous system and direct them to form new myelin. Our ultimate goal was to enhance the body's ability to repair itself."