Multiple Sclerosis Drug Combined with Lipitor May Stop or Reverse Disease - Dosages Cut in Half with Fewer Negative Side Effects
March 16th 2006
Combining treatments may improve outcomes for patients with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), according to research done on mice and published online by the Journal of Clinical Investigation. Scott S. Zamvil and colleagues at the University of California, San Francisco found that mice treated with a combination of Glatiramer acetate (GA) and atorvastatin (Lipitor) demonstrated “a significant prevention and reversal of clinical MS severity” of MS symptoms.
Lipitor is a cholesterol lowering drug that has previously been shown to improve MS symptoms. Glatiramer acetate (Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.'s Copaxone) is a drug currently approved for MS treatment. The researchers found that treating MS with combinations of immune modulating drugs can greatly reduce MS disease.
According to the researchers, treating EAE (experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis) mice with the combination therapy caused the animals to lose less myelin, prevented CNS inflammation, and MS disease incidence.
The researchers then treated isolated inflammatory cells called macrophages with these drugs and found that the combination therapy mediated its effects by promoting the secretion of the anti-inflammatory molecule IL-10 and suppressed production of the proinflammatory molecules IL-12 and TNF-alpha.
The researchers believe that the combined delivery of drugs, which act through different mechanisms, may enhance the therapeutic efficacy of MS and reduce the negative side effects. Also the drug dosages were less than the dosages used in regular single drug treatments.
Copaxone has been shown to be 30 to 35 percent effective alone. According to Bloomberg News, all MS drugs have to be injected, and have “severe side effects”. None of the MS drugs are very potent.
Lipitor on the other hand can be taken orally and is considered relatively safe. Lipitor, the best selling drug in the world, appears to block production of immune system agents, called cytokines, involved in the disease process. Currently the University of California, San Francisco is looking for 152 patients at 14 hospitals to participate in clinical trials. These trials will investigate the effect Lipitor alone has on MS. Contact the office of Scott Zamvil, associate professor of neurology at University of California, San Francisco, for more information.
There are 400,000 MS sufferers in the US. The illness causes neurological symptoms that include loss of motor control, blindness and temporary recurring paralysis. The condition occur when the body’s natural defenses are over stimulated and begin stripping the protective insulation, called myelin, from nerve fibers in the central nervous system, which includes the brain, optic nerves and spinal cord.
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