Tavist (clemastine) is an over-the-counter antihistamine that is being developed as a potential treatment for relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS).1 Clemastine crosses the blood-brain barrier and causes drowsiness. It may also reduce the myelin damage in MS by reducing the activity of immune cells, studies show.1
In a Phase 2 clinical trial (NCT02040298), clemastine showed evidence of stimulating myelin repair, improving the transmission of electrical signals in the optic nerve in people with MS who had optic nerve damage. The improved transmission is an indicator of the repair of the damaged nerve pathways.2
This study involved 50 participants with evidence of chronic optic neuropathy due to recent optic neuritis. Its purpose was to assess clemastine as a remyelinating agent in people with relapsing forms of MS and tolerability to the antihistamine.3 The primary objective of the study was full field visual evoked potential (VEP), which is a measure of the functional integrity of the visual pathways from the retina to the visual cortex of the brain.
During the five-month study, participants in the experimental group were treated with a clemastine dosage that exceeded the maximum dose recommended for over-the-counter use for three months and the control group received placebo. After three months, the groups switched treatments. Participants under antihistamine treatment showed an average reduction in visual pathway transmission delays of slightly less than two milliseconds in each eye. Although this was a modest improvement, the study showed promising as it has been shown to possibly reverse the damage done by MS. Some of the side effects reported were an increase in fatigue and drowsiness and sometimes dry mouth, headaches and nausea.
Although these results are promising, the investigators noted that more studies with a larger number of participants are needed before clemastine can be recommended as a treatment for people with MS.
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