Cheap BP drug could help treat multiple sclerosis

August 18th, 2009 - 1:03 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Aug 18 (ANI): A cheap blood pressure drug could help keep multiple sclerosis at bay, claim researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

The study’s boffins came to the conclusion after finding a link, in mice and in human brain tissue, between high blood pressure and multiple sclerosis.

While neurology professor Lawrence Steinman, MD, senior author of the new study, cautioned that extensive clinical trial work is needed to determine if the drug, known as lisinopril, can do in humans what it does in mice, he is excited that “we were able to show that all the targets for lisinopril are there and ready for therapeutic manipulation in the multiple-sclerosis lesions of human patients. Without that, this would be just another intriguing paper about what’s possible in the mouse.”

The paper has been published online Aug. 17 by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Multiple sclerosis is a chronic and occasionally lethal autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system mounts recurring assaults on the myelin sheathing of nerve cells in the brain.

This causes nerves to malfunction and can lead to blindness and paralysis. Both multiple sclerosis and atherosclerosis involve inflammatory processes.

Drugs currently used to treat MS are of limited effectiveness. Some cost up to 15,000 pounds a year. Lisinopril, in contrast, costs as little as 2p per pill.

Research by Steinman indicated that the chemical, called angiotensinconverting enzyme, also played a role in the inflammation responsible for the damage caused by MS.

Steinman, of Stanford University in the U.S., showed that samples of brain tissue from MS patients had high levels of angiotensin-converting enzyme.

He then gave Lisinopril to mice before giving them a chemical that normally causes an MS-like illness in mice.

The creatures remained healthy, suggesting the blood pressure drug was holding MS at bay.

Strikingly, when he gave Lisinopril to mice after giving them the MS-causing chemical, paralysis was reversed.

Tests showed that Lisinopril boosted production of immune cells called regulatory T cells. These protect against autoimmune diseases such as MS by dampening down the rogue immune response that damages the body. (ANI)

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