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MS Treatment a Step Closer After Drug Shown To Repair Nerve Coating

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: Doctors believe they are closer to a treatment for multiple sclerosis after discovering a drug that repairs the coatings around nerves that are damaged by the disease. A clinical trial of the cancer drug bexarotene showed that it repaired the protective myelin sheaths that MS destroys. The loss of myelin causes a range of neurological problems including balance, vision and muscle disorders, and ultimately, disability.

While bexarotene cannot be used as a treatment, because the side-effects are too serious, doctors behind the trial said the results showed “remyelination” was possible in humans, suggesting other drugs or drug combinations will halt MS. “It’s disappointing that this is not the drug we’ll use, but it’s exciting that repair is achievable and it gives us great hope for another trial we hope to start this year,” said Prof Alasdair Coles, who led the research at the University of Cambridge. The drug had some serious side-effects, from thyroid disease to raised levels of fats in the blood, which can lead to dangerous inflammation of the pancreas. But brain scans revealed that neurons had regrown their myelin sheaths, a finding confirmed by tests that showed signals sent from the retina to the visual cortex at the back of the brain had quickened. “That can only be achieved through remyelination,” said Coles.

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