A picture of Professor Arthur Butt of the University of Portsmouth

New uses for existing drugs?

Research we co-funded uses an exciting new method to identify drugs that could benefit people with MS.

Hi-tech strategy

Researchers combined large sets of data to compare signals from approved drugs with signals from molecules important for developing myelin producing cells. Using computer power to find where signals matched, they were able to select which drugs to investigate further.

In tests, one promising molecule increased the number of myelin producing cells (oligodendrocytes). Others reduced loss of neurons, and increased regeneration of oligodendrocyte after brain damage. All the molecules identified have the potential to help us understand more about myelin regeneration.

What's next?

We talked to Professor Arthur Butt, an expert in cellular neurophysiology and one of the senior authors on the paper. He told us:

“This is potentially a very important step forward in identifying drugs that can help combat the damage in MS. We have now begun testing some of these at the University of Portsmouth as part of a new project funded by the MS Society.”

Repurposing existing drugs

Our Head of Biomedical Research, Dr Sorrel Bickley wanted to add:

“We're proud to support this work, which has identified compounds that could be investigated further as potential treatments for MS.

“Repurposing existing drugs is a really exciting area of research – because it means they could become available more quickly and cheaply.”