Source: The Telegraph
A common athlete’s foot cream sold over the counter at most chemists could cure multiple sclerosis, scientists believe.
In what was described as a ‘paradigm shift’ in treating the debilitating condition, researchers found that the drug miconazole - the active ingredient in Daktarin - instructs stem cells in the brain to repair nerve damage.
A team at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio have been testing more than 700 drugs to see if anyone would be useful against multiple sclerosis.
Around 100,000 people in Britain suffer from MS and there is currently no cure. The disorder occurs when myelin, the fatty material which protects nerves is damaged, exposing the nerves and causing signalling problems between the brain and muscles.
It can lead to vision loss, fatigue, numbness and paralysis.
But the athlete’s foot drug and a cream used to treat eczema were found to stimulate the regeneration of damaged brain cells. It was found to reverse paralysis in mice.
"We know that there are stem cells throughout the adult nervous system that are capable of repairing the damage caused by multiple sclerosis, but until now, we had no way to direct them to act," said Dr Paul Tesar, Professor of Innovative Therapeutics at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine.
"Our approach was to find drugs that could catalyze the body's own stem cells to replace the cells lost in multiple sclerosis."
Current multiple sclerosis therapies aim to slow further myelin destruction by the immune system, but the Case Western Reserve team used a new approach to create new myelin within the nervous system.
However the team said that much work remains before multiple sclerosis patients might benefit from the promising approach.
Scientists still must find ways to transform the topical medications for internal use and determine their long-term efficacy and potential side effects.
However they said the initial findings show promise of the chance of a cure for the condition and the drugs have been shown to work on human stem cells.
“This truly represents a paradigm shift in how we think about restoring function to multiple sclerosis patients,” said Dr Robert Miller of the neurosciences faculty.
"The drugs that we identified are able to enhance the regenerative capacity of stem cells in the adult nervous system. It was a striking reversal of disease severity in the mice.”
Charities said the research was ‘exciting’ and urged clinical trials.
Dr Sorrel Bickley, Research Communications Manager at the MS Society said:
“More than 100,000 people in the UK live with MS, which is why there is a huge unmet need for new therapies that can repair the damage to myelin that occurs in the condition.
“While this is an early study, it’s exciting to think that there is now a growing list of potential myelin repair therapies that have been identified in laboratory and animal model studies.
“The next step will be to test these treatments in clinical trials to establish whether they can bring real benefits in slowing or stopping the progression of MS.”
The research was published in the journal Nature.
Read more at The Telegraph