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Small trial of simvastatin shows promise as treatment for MS

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Author: MS Trust

Brain volume loss and progression of the condition were both slowed and quality of life was improved

140 people with secondary progressive multiple sclerosis took either high dose simvastatin (80mg/day) or placebo in this two year, phase II clinical trial. MRI scans measured brain volume during the course of the study, disability was measured using the EDSS scale and participants completed questionnaires to measure the impact of MS on day-to-day living. Simvastatin was well tolerated by the participants.

The group taking simvastatin was found to have significantly less reduction in brain volume, significantly slower change in EDSS, and significantly improved scores on the MSIS-29, a measure of the extent to which MS affects daily life. After two years, there was no difference between the groups in the Multiple Sclerosis Functional Composite (MSFC) score, a measure of mobility, dexterity and cognition.

Amy Bowen, Director of Service Development at the MS Trust said

These are encouraging results for people with secondary progressive MS, for whom there are currently no available disease modifying treatments. However, this small study does not give sufficient evidence for the routine use of simvastatin in secondary progressive MS. The beneficial results will need to be confirmed by further studies with more participants.

Lower doses of simvastatin are widely prescribed, like other statins, to lower "bad" cholesterol in the blood. High levels of "bad" cholesterol are thought to lead to hardening and narrowing of the arteries so increasing the risk of heart attacks and stroke.

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