Acne medication possible new MS treatment

June 07, 2017
A Canadian clinical trial shows that a common acne medication can slow the progress of relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis in people who have recently experienced their first symptoms. The discovery offers a safe and affordable treatment option for those with early onset MS and could affect thousands of newly diagnosed MS patients around the world.
 
The drug itself, minocycline, has been around for 50 years, and it doesn't need further Health Canada approval to be used as an off label prescription for MS. The trial, led by researchers at the University of Calgary's Hotchkiss Brain Institute, at the Cumming School of Medicine, included 142 participants between the ages of 18 and 60 across 12 Canadian sites including Vancouver, Burnaby, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Toronto, London, Montreal, Quebec City, and Halifax.
 
Participants in the trial who were experiencing their first demyelinating symptoms were randomized to receive 100 mg twice daily of the oral minocycline or placebo. During six months of treatment, there was a 27.6 percent reduction of becoming clinically definite MS. (The risk was 61 percent in the placebo group and 33.4 percent in the minocycline group.) This is similar to the effects of current therapies.
 
This outcome for individuals experiencing demyelinating symptoms worldwide has been more than 18 years in the making. Researchers initially had the idea to test the acne medicine in an animal model because minocycline has many anti-inflammatory properties that were thought could be useful in treating MS. Soon after obtaining successful research results, a researcher team moved into a pilot clinical trial, then a Phase 2, and finally the definitive Phase 3 trial.
 
The results were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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