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article imageCan existing drugs help to combat MS?

By Tim Sandle     Mar 31, 2015 in Health
Edinburgh - Existing medications for conditions like depression and heart problems could hold the clue to treating multiple sclerosis, according to medical experts.
A number of candidate drugs are being examined, including those prescribed for depression and heart-disease, to see if they can be effective against multiple sclerosis. Currently no drug exists for the treatment of the neurological condition at the secondary progressive stage, although various medications can help to alleviate the pain the accompanies the condition.
Multiple sclerosis is an inflammatory disease in which the insulating covers of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord are damaged. Although the signs and symptoms vary between sufferers, autonomic, visual, motor, and sensory problems are the most common.
To examine the effectiveness of the range of current medications, which scientists have grouped down to those considered most likely to be effective, some 400 people will take part in a series of clinical trials at University College London and the University of Edinburgh. The program is to be called "MS-Smart."
The final shortlist of medications is down to three: Amiloride, which currently licensed to treat heart disease; Fluoxetine a medication used in depression; and Riluzole, which is prescribed for Motor Neurone Disease. Each of these drugs seems to be protect nerves from damage.
Dr Jeremy Chataway, a consultant neurologist who is leading the study told the BBC: "In the same way that aspirin was developed as a painkiller and is now used to treat stroke patients, we may well have invented the drugs that we need, we just don't know that they work in different situations than what they were invented for."
He went onto add: "One of the advantages is they are very cheap, and we know a great deal about them as they have been tested on millions of people around the world in their original indication. So it's much more of a running start when we use drugs that we aim to repurpose."
Repurpose is a term for taking a drug developed and marketed for one condition and using it, at a later stage, for another disease. It is a quicker and less expensive process than developing a new medication from scratch.
More about Multiple sclerosis, Drugs, Medication, Heart attack, Depression
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