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New Multiple Sclerosis Treatment from an Old Drug

Posted Nov 17 2009 10:20pm
Source: Julie Stachowiak, Ph.D., About.com Guide to Multiple Sclerosis
Article was provided by Trent Stinson of Miami

Monday February 2, 2009
It seems like the past week or two have just been filled with good news, potentially very good news for some people with multiple sclerosis (MS). First we saw the announcement of an oral multiple sclerosis treatment that may be available pretty soon, and then we saw the first actual reversal of multiple sclerosis symptoms.

I am happy to say that the good news continues to come in. At Johns Hopkins University, there is an ongoing project that is (in my opinion) genius in the approach. Pharmacologists (led by Dr. Jun O. Liu) are digging through a huge database of over 3,000 drugs looking for new uses of old drugs. This investigation of existing, known (and known to be safe) drugs for additional purposes represents some of the smartest research out there.

Here's the really good part (for us MSers) - they found one that may help with multiple sclerosis. The drug clofazimine was developed in the 1890s as a treatment for tuberculosis. Clofazimine happens to also interfere with a molecular pathway that controls the immune response. Basically, clofazimine prevents signaling from the exterior of an immune cell into the interior (where it can "rev up" a response). They result? An inhibited immune system that is less likely to attack the myelin and cause the symptoms of multiple sclerosis (in theory).

I love this line of research, not only because it holds promise for multiple sclerosis, but because it is, in essence, "repurposing" old drugs with known safety measures for new problems. This makes so much sense.

The full study is available online (for free) from the Public Library of Science.

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It seems like the past week or two have just been filled with good news, potentially very good news for some people with multiple sclerosis (MS). First we saw the announcement of an oral multiple sclerosis treatment that may be available pretty soon, and then we saw the first actual reversal of multiple sclerosis symptoms.

I am happy to say that the good news continues to come in. At Johns Hopkins University, there is an ongoing project that is (in my opinion) genius in the approach. Pharmacologists (led by Dr. Jun O. Liu) are digging through a huge database of over 3,000 drugs looking for new uses of old drugs. This investigation of existing, known (and known to be safe) drugs for additional purposes represents some of the smartest research out there.

Here's the really good part (for us MSers) - they found one that may help with multiple sclerosis. The drug clofazimine was developed in the 1890s as a treatment for tuberculosis. Clofazimine happens to also interfere with a molecular pathway that controls the immune response. Basically, clofazimine prevents signaling from the exterior of an immune cell into the interior (where it can "rev up" a response). They result? An inhibited immune system that is less likely to attack the myelin and cause the symptoms of multiple sclerosis (in theory).

I love this line of research, not only because it holds promise for multiple sclerosis, but because it is, in essence, "repurposing" old drugs with known safety measures for new problems. This makes so much sense.

The full study is available online (for free) from the Public Library of Science.
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