Multiple Sclerosis: Other Treatments Under Study - Topic Overview
Other medicines or treatment methods being studied for use in
multiple sclerosis (MS) include:
Myelin look-alikes. The success of glatiramer (Copaxone), which was designed to resemble natural myelin protein, has
led to more research in this area. So far, no other myelin look-alike has shown
as much promise as glatiramer.
Myelin protectors. Ways to
repair and restore damaged myelin and nerve fibers are being studied.
Researchers are trying to identify ways to stop the immune system from damaging
tissue in the first place.
Monoclonal antibodies that can be made
to target the specific cells in the immune system that are attacking the myelin
coating of the nerves. They could be effective while avoiding the widespread
effects of current medicines, which tend to suppress the entire immune
Cytokines, which are naturally occurring body chemicals
that control the response of the immune system.
Studies are under way to find out whether estriol (a form of estrogen) can
alter the immune system to keep it from attacking myelin. A connection is
suspected between high levels of this hormone, which rise during pregnancy, and
an alteration of the immune system to make it less likely to attack tissue,
since MS symptoms getting worse during pregnancy is
Aminopyridines, which appear to improve nerve function in
demyelination. In early trials of one form of MS,
there was mild to marked benefit with aminopyridine treatment, but the effect
lasted only a few hours.
Statins, which are used to reduce cholesterol. Earlier studies
showed that statins (such as simvastatin, lovastatin, or mevastatin) may
reduce the activity of the immune system that causes inflammation and possibly
tissue damage in MS. But other studies have shown increased disease activity when statins are used. At this time, statins are not recommended for treating MS.
transplantation. This is a very new area of research in MS treatment. It is
unclear whether bone marrow transplantation is of benefit or harm to people
who have MS.