Research & Bad Media:Yet another Cure Comming your way


A news story has been surfacing today

“Daily pill to prevent or even cure multiple sclerosis in pipeline”

They say “This is frankly an exciting breakthrough and has huge potential. The role of neurosteroids in the brain has been known for some time but no one thought, until now, that they might play a role in MS…When mice with MS were treated with the neurosteroid it cut inflammation in the brain and repaired nerve fibres and their protective myelin sheaths…We found the mice showed a 50% reduction in MS disease severity in the brain.”

MouseDoctor says 50% reduction IS NOT A CURE, this is bad reporting and over-hyping again creating false expectations… so lets look at the story.

This is from a publication
Noorbakhsh F, Ellestad KK, Maingat F, Warren KG, Han MH, Steinman L, Baker GB, Power C. Impaired neurosteroid synthesis in multiple sclerosis .Brain. 2011 Sep;134(Pt 9):2703-21.

Whilst looking for molecules that can influence how proteins are made, researchers found that some of these molecules seemed to converge on a pathway that makes allopregnanlone. Allopregnanlone modulates certain chemicals in the brain that control how nerve impulses fire. Therefore, there are many potentials for a drug that mimics this and also potential side-effects (such as cognitive behaviours). The researchers found that there was less Allopregnanlone in the brains of MSers and also in the animal MS models. The researchers then gave allopregnanlone to mice with MS-like disease.

Viewing the data it looks like there is some immunomodulating effect of the drug and so the claims of benefit on sparing of myelin and nerve injury are obvious, because if the damaging immune response does not arrive to cause damage, it is obvious that there will not be any damage. (Remember we want more than just this effect) Therefore, they did not show evidence that this drug actually causes nerve repair in the animals. In my opinion the experiment was not designed so that it could show this. Also it looks like the drug did not completely prevent disease from occuring, so again this has not yet been shown to be a cure. So the claims in paper were over-hyped and need more experiments are needed to show this.

However, on the real positive side, the researchers provided evidence that this drug could influence the growth and maturation of cells that make myelin. This linked with evidence from other animals studies that allopregnanlone may slow the accumulation of nerve damage, suggests that there may be real mileage in investigating this pathway, for progressive MSers, so this aspect makes it more exciting and it is promise for the future.

However, in the animal studies this drug is not even in pill form and so it will be many years, before there is a drug-based on this would reach MSers.

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  • Dude.. I am not much into reading, but somehow I got to read lots of articles on your blog. Its amazing how interesting it is for me to visit you very often.

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