Potential treatment found for secondary progressive MS
Published date: 10 Oct 2012 at 11:16AM
Researchers announced today they have found a treatment that might slow the progression of MS in people in the later stages of the condition.
In the phase 2 clinical trial involving 140 people with MS, 70 people with SPMS took the drug for two years. Their results were compared to 70 people with the same condition who took a placebo.
Those taking simvastatin (80mg/day) showed:
- A significant reduction in the rate of brain atrophy (brain shrinkage) over two years
- Better end-of study EDSS scores (a scale measuring disability levels)
- Better end-of study MSIS-29 scores (a scale used to measure the impact of MS on somebody’s day-to-day life)
What were the side effects?
There were no major side effects associated with simvastatin in this trial, but further details are yet to be provided.
It's worth noting that in June 2011 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the US drugs regulator, issued new safety recommendations for simvastatin, citing muscle injury (or myopathy) as a risk associated with the 80mg/day higher dose (as used in this study).
What does the MS Society think?
Nick Rijke, Director of Policy and Research at the MS Society, said:
"People with progressive MS are in desperate need of treatment options and the results announced today are an encouraging first step towards a new and potentially cheap treatment for people with the condition.
"But it's early days still, and further clinical trials will be crucial in determining the safety and effectiveness of simvastatin in people with MS."
What happens next?
Today’s announcement is the first time the results have been shown to the MS research community. They will now need to be published in a peer-reviewed journal where they will be scrutinised by the scientific community.
Scientists will then need to replicate these findings in larger clinical trials before the drug can be considered as a MS therapy.
Researcher and funders
The study was led by Dr Jeremy Chataway at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, University College London and Imperial College, London. It was jointly funded by the Moulton Foundation, the Berkeley Foundation, Multiple Sclerosis Trials Collaboration and the National Institute of Health Research.
People with progressive MS are in desperate need of treatment options and the results announced today are an encouraging first step towards a new and potentially cheap treatment for people with the condition.Nick Rijke, Director of Policy and Research at the MS Society