A high daily dose of simvastatin improves multiple sclerosis patients’ cognitive function, according to a new analysis of Phase 2 clinical trial results.
The British team that did the research will start a study soon on whether simvastatin, which goes by the brand name Zocor and other labels, can also slow the progression of MS disability.
The researchers’ latest analysis was published in the journal Lancet Neurology. The title was “Effect of high-dose simvastatin on cognitive, neuropsychiatric, and health-related quality-of-life measures in secondary progressive multiple sclerosis: secondary analyses from the MS-STAT randomised, placebo-controlled trial,”
About 100,000 people in the United Kingdom have MS. As the disease progresses, at least half of patients develop secondary progressive MS (SPMS), characterized by greater disability and gradual worsening of their condition.
Cognitive impairment, which can start early in MS, affects more than 80 percent of SPMS patients. The areas most frequently impaired are attention, memory, the speed at which a person processes information, and what scientists call executive function skills, which help people get things done. Those with impaired executive function skills have difficulty engaging in day-to-day activities and have decreased quality of life.
Jeremy Chataway and colleagues at University College London Hospitals reported in 2014 that a high daily dose of simvastatin, a cholesterol-blocking drug, could slow SPMS patients’ brain atrophy, or shrinkage.
The team confirmed the results in their new analysis of the Phase 2 MS-STAT trial (NCT00647348) results.
Researchers had randomly assigned 133 SPMS patients in the 24-month, double-blind, controlled trial to either an 80-mg dose of simvastatin a day or a placebo. The team used a battery of tests to determine changes in patients’ cognitive function 12 and 24 months after treatment.
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