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£6 million statin study to determine potential therapeutic use in MS

Published on 09/05/17 at 09:29am

A large study will take place in the UK to determine whether statins, commonly prescribed to combat “bad cholesterol”, are able to be used in the treatment of multiple sclerosis. The research comes after a smaller study, of 140 people, found that patients taking high doses of simvastatin showed slower rates of brain shrinkage compared with those receiving placebo.

The new Phase 3 study will contain 1,180 people and will take place over six years. If the research yields similar findings to the previous Phase 2 trial, it could lead to a quick regulatory approval for statins to be used in MS treatment.

Statins are already commonly prescribed and safety data on the medication is already abundant, which could be used as part of any regulatory filing.

There are approximately 100,000 sufferers of MS in the UK currently. Women are disproportionately affected with the condition, where the immune system attacks the central nervous system. The condition can cause problems with movement and thought processes, such as emotions and memory.

Dr Jeremy Chataway, of the UCL Institute of Neurology, who is leading the research, commented: “This drug holds incredible promise for the thousands of people living with secondary progressive MS in the UK, and around the world, who currently have few options for treatments that have an effect on disability. This study will establish definitively whether simvastatin is able to slow the rate of disability progression over a three year period, and we are very hopeful it will.”

Dr Chataway led the initial study into the impact of statins on disease management. In the previous study, half of the participants took statins while the other half received placebos; the results found that those on statins displayed brain shrinkage of 0.3% compared with 0.6% in those that received placebo. Patients receiving statins also displayed an improvement in their disability scores.

The research is being funded by the National Institute for Health Research, as well as by the charities MS Society UK and National MS Society (based in the US).

Ben Hargreaves

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