According to new research cholesterol-lowering drugs, widely used to reduce the risk of heart attack, could also be effective in treating multiple sclerosis.
The news underscores the reputation of statins as potential miracle pills to rival aspirin.
Already hailed for revolutionizing the management of heart disease, the drugs -- which will soon be available over the counter in Britain -- are also being studied in the fight against Alzheimer's disease and osteoporosis.
Now researchers from the Medical University of South Carolina have produced the first clinical evidence that statins can help in multiple sclerosis in an article in The Lancet medical journal.
A group of 30 patients with MS were given 80 mg a day of Merck & Co Inc's Zocor, or simvastatin, and had a 44 percent reduction in brain lesions after three months of treatment, the study showed.
Brain lesions are areas of inflammation and are markers of the progression and severity of MS, a debilitating disease in which nerve cells lose their insulating sheath, leading to muscle weakness, fatigue, bladder problems and impaired vision, reports reuters.co.uk
According to webindia123.com Inderjit Singh from the Medical University of South Carolina, US, and his colleagues have reported how 30 people with MS given 80 mg simvastatin daily for 6 months had a 44 per cent reduction in the proportion of brain lesions after three months of treatment.
"These findings suggest that an 80 mg daily dose of oral simvastatin over a 6 month period could inhibit the inflammatory components of multiple sclerosis that lead to neurological disability. Our results, combined with the published work on the immunological effects of statins lend support to the case for randomised controlled clinical trials to establish the safety and efficacy of statins in the treatment of relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis," said Singh.
Scientists and doctors still have a long way to go, the team said. They have to find out what the ideal dosage might be. They think the dosage for people with MS will probably have to be higher than for people with clogged arteries.
Professor Polman told existing MS patients not to switch to statins now and drop their existing treatment. He said the use of statins without knowing more about them could boomerang.
The temptation to go out and get statins in the UK will be higher. In the UK statins will soon be available over the counter, without the need for a prescription from a doctor, informs medicalnewstoday.com