American Academy of Neurology Annual Meeting

American Academy of Neurology Annual Meeting

April 12, 2016
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Antihistamine may reverse vision damage associated with multiple sclerosis

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An OTC antihistamine reversed chronic vision damage in patients with multiple sclerosis, according to a preliminary study released ahead of the American Academy of Neurology meeting.

Ari Green, MD, of the Multiple Sclerosis Center at the University of California, San Francisco, and colleagues reported in a press release that clemastine fumarate, which is used to treat allergy and common cold symptoms, reversed damage from optic neuropathy.

"This study is exciting because it is the first to demonstrate possible repair of that protective coating in people with chronic demyelination from MS," Green said in the release. "This was done using a drug that was identified at UCSF only 2.5 years ago as an agent with the potential to help with brain repair."

The researchers investigated 50 patients with an average age of 40 years, who had MS for an average of 5 years with mild disability and had evidence of a stable chronic optic neuropathy.

During the first 3 months of the study, patients were given either clemastine fumarate or a placebo. For the next 2 months, the groups received the other treatment. Green and colleagues assessed vision delays in transmission of signals from the retina to the visual cortex using visual evoked potential.

Results showed an average improvement of less than 2 milliseconds in each eye for patients taking the antihistamine.

"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," Green said in the release. "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." – by Chelsea Frajerman Pardes

Reference:

Green A, et al. Positive phase II double-blind randomized placebo-controlled crossover trial of clemastine fumarate for remyelination of chronic optic neuropathy in MS. Presented at: American Academy of Neurology Annual Meeting; April 15-21, 2016; Vancouver, British Columbia.

Disclosures: The study was supported by UCSF and the Rachleff Family. Healio Internal Medicine was unable to confirm author disclosures at the time of publication.