A common over-the-counter cold drug could reverse the vision damage of multiple sclerosis.
Multiple sclerosis vision damage (optic neuropathy) can be reversed by a common over-the-counter cold drug, according to research. The drug, clemastine fumarate, which helps alleviate allergy and cold symptoms, has been found to temporarily reverse vision damage commonly seen in multiple sclerosis.
The study involved multiple sclerosis (MS) patients with vision damage. Optic nerve damage is common in multiple sclerosis as the disease damages the protective coating around the nerves, exposing them and thus causing damage.
Study author Ari Green said, “This study is exciting because it is the first to demonstrate possible repair of that protective coating in people with chronic demyelination from MS. This was done using a drug that was identified at UCSF [University of California, San Francisco] only two-and-a-half years ago as an agent with the potential to help with brain repair.”
The study took five months and involved 50 patients. The participants took vision tests as the beginning of the study and again at the end. During the first three months participants were given clemastine fumarate or a placebo. For the last two months, those who received the drug were switched to a placebo and those on the placebo received the drug.
Green added, “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. 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.”
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