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Researchers suggest antihistamine has remyelinating potential


In a new study involving multiple sclerosis patients with chronic optic neuropathy, a common antihistamine used to treat symptoms of allergies and the common cold, clemastine fumarate, partially reversed damage to the visual system.

The authors set out to assess the effectiveness of clemastine fumarate for remyelination in patients with MS and chronic optic neuropathy. They conducted study comparing twice-daily oral clemastine to placebo in 50 patients with MS and chronic demyelinating optic neuropathy. They wanted to measure changes in latency delay on visual evoked potentials (VEP) – the time for transmission of signal from the retina to the visual cortex was recorded.

They found there was a reduction of the primary efficacy endpoint of VEP latency delay for the period on treatment. A strong trend for improvement of the principal secondary endpoint of low contrast visual acuity was also found. Clemastine treatment was associated with mild worsening of fatigue on the multidimensional assessment of fatigue.

“While the improvement in vision appears modest, this study is promising because it is the first time a drug has been shown to possibly reverse the damage done by MS,” said study author Ari Green, MD, of the Multiple Sclerosis Center at UC San Francisco. “Findings are preliminary, but this study provides a framework for future MS repair studies and will hopefully herald discoveries that will enhance the brain’s innate capacity for repair.”

The findings will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 68th annual meeting in Vancouver, Canada.

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