Drug Combined with Lipitor May Stop or Reverse Disease - Dosages Cut in
Half with Fewer Negative Side Effects
Combining treatments may improve outcomes for patients with Multiple
Sclerosis (MS), according to research done on mice and published online
by the Journal of Clinical Investigation. Scott S. Zamvil and colleagues
at the University of California, San Francisco found that mice treated
with a combination of Glatiramer acetate (GA) and atorvastatin (Lipitor)
demonstrated “a significant prevention and reversal of clinical MS
severity” of MS symptoms.
Lipitor is a cholesterol lowering drug that has previously been shown to
improve MS symptoms. Glatiramer acetate (Teva Pharmaceutical Industries
Ltd.'s Copaxone) is a drug currently approved for MS treatment. The
researchers found that treating MS with combinations of immune
modulating drugs can greatly reduce MS disease.
According to the researchers, treating EAE (experimental autoimmune
encephalomyelitis) mice with the combination therapy caused the animals
to lose less myelin, prevented CNS inflammation, and MS disease
The researchers then treated isolated inflammatory cells called
macrophages with these drugs and found that the combination therapy
mediated its effects by promoting the secretion of the anti-inflammatory
molecule IL-10 and suppressed production of the proinflammatory
molecules IL-12 and TNF-alpha.
The researchers believe that the combined delivery of drugs, which act
through different mechanisms, may enhance the therapeutic efficacy of MS
and reduce the negative side effects. Also the drug dosages were less
than the dosages used in regular single drug treatments.
Copaxone has been shown to be 30 to 35 percent effective alone.
According to Bloomberg News, all MS drugs have to be injected, and have
“severe side effects”. None of the MS drugs are very potent.
Lipitor on the other hand can be taken orally and is considered
relatively safe. Lipitor, the best selling drug in the world, appears
to block production of immune system agents, called cytokines, involved
in the disease process. Currently the University of California, San
Francisco is looking for 152 patients at 14 hospitals to participate in
clinical trials. These trials will investigate the effect Lipitor alone
has on MS. Contact the office of Scott Zamvil, associate professor of
neurology at University of California, San Francisco, for more
There are 400,000 MS sufferers in the US. The illness causes
neurological symptoms that include loss of motor control, blindness and
temporary recurring paralysis. The condition occur when the body’s
natural defenses are over stimulated and begin stripping the protective
insulation, called myelin, from nerve fibers in the central nervous
system, which includes the brain, optic nerves and spinal cord.
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