Drinking Tiny Gold Crystals May Help With MS Vision Problems

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April 30, 2024 – People with multiple sclerosis who drank a medicine containing gold nanocrystals daily for nearly 3 years got better vision. 

Vision problems are a nearly universal symptom of multiple sclerosis (MS), which is a potentially disabling disease that affects the brain and spinal cord. Nearly 1 million people in the U.S have MS. One estimate suggests vision problems are often the first sign of the disease. Damage to nerve fibers can cause a wide range of symptoms, including sometimes losing the ability to walk. There is no cure for MS.

The latest study results, detailed at the American Academy of Neurology conference in Denver this month, showed that more than half of people improved performance by 10 letters on a low-contrast letter acuity test. The test uses charts similar to those in standard eye exams, where letters are read from top to bottom as they decrease in size. Some people in the study improved by 38 letters on the test, according to a news release from drugmaker Clene Nanomedicine. 

The findings have not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal and come from treatment time added on to a phase 2 clinical trial of the experimental treatment called CNM-Au8. The initial trial included people with relapsing MS ages 18 to 55 years old who had MS for 15 years or less. The extended trial period included 55 people, some of whom had taken CNM-Au8 during the initial 48-week trial period, and the others who took a placebo and then switched to CNM-Au8 for the extension period of 96 weeks.

Clene Nanomedicine’s news release also reported evidence of improvements in mental skills and working memory, as well as signs of a central nervous system repair process called remyelination.

CNM-Au8 can penetrate the blood-brain barrier but is absorbed slowly, according to a paper about the medicine published in the journal eClinicalMedicine in 2023. That 2023 study noted that CNM-Au8 couldn’t be quantified in human blood samples until after 3 to 4 weeks, and tissue levels measured in animals balanced out after more than 6 months of taking the medicine orally each day.