November 28, 2021

Antihistamines May Reverse Visual Damage Associated With Multiple Sclerosis

April 12, 2016

1 minute read


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An over-the-counter antihistamine reversed chronic visual damage in patients with multiple sclerosis, according to a preliminary study published ahead of the American Academy of Neurology meeting.

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

“This study is exciting because it is the first to demonstrate the possible repair of this protective coating in people with chronic demyelination in 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 aid in brain repair.”

The researchers studied 50 patients with an average age of 40 years, with MS for an average of 5 years with mild disability and showing signs of stable chronic optic neuropathy.

During the first 3 months of the study, patients received either clemastine fumarate or placebo. During the next 2 months, the groups received the other treatment. Green and colleagues evaluated visual delays in transmitting signals from the retina to the visual cortex using visual evoked potential.

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

“Although the improvement in vision appears modest, this study is promising because it is the first time that a drug has been shown to potentially reverse the damage caused by MS,” Green said in the statement. “The results are preliminary, but this study provides a framework for future MS repair studies and will hopefully herald findings that will improve the brain’s innate ability to repair itself.” – by Chelsea Frajerman Pardes

Reference:

Green A, et al. Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, phase II crossover trial of clemastine fumarate for the remyelination of chronic optic neuropathy in MS. Presented at the 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 the author’s disclosures at the time of posting.


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