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Statins May Slow Progression of Multiple Sclerosis, New Study Finds
Date:4/14/2010

confirm the effects of the drug and its magnitude. It is important that we understand how statins impact the progression of multiple sclerosis in order to better inform physicians and patients of their effect since these drugs are so broadly used throughout the United States and the world, and to learn whether a relatively inexpensive oral therapy can slow the course of disease,” said Waubant.

MS is considered an autoimmune disease where immune cells attack the central nervous system. Nerves are made up of axons (nerve fibers) surrounded by a myelin sheath. MS occurs when the immune system attacks myelin, leaving scars or lesions in the demyelinated areas of the brain and spinal cord. Damage to myelin disrupts the ability of nerves to transmit information to nerve cells, resulting in neurological disability.

The team employed MRI to look at the activity of the medication on the disease course. More than 150 patients were originally intended, but enrollment was stopped due to slow recruitment after 81 patients were randomized. Each subject was asked to come in every three months (five scans over 12 months) for serial brain MRI evaluation. The subject pool was 76.5 percent female, 92.6 percent white, and ranged in age from 24 – 48 years.

Central MRI reading and coordinating was provided by Daniel Pelletier, MD, study author, associate professor of neurology and a member of the Multiple Sclerosis Research Group at UCSF.

"The exciting finding in this study is that reducing new brain MRI lesions should be meaningful for patients since new lesions are reliable correlates of future clinical attacks in MS," said Pelletier.

In addition to UCSF, the multi-center trial involved Oregon Health & Science University, The Cleveland Clinic, Virginia Mason MS Center, Washington University School of Medicine John L. Trotter MS Center, Montreal Neurological Institute, Barrow Neurological Institute, Universit
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