Statins, the cholesterol-lowering drugs taken by millions of people, might also help those with multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a preliminary study appearing in the May 15 Lancet.
Various studies have indicated that statins—in addition to slashing the harmful low-density lipoprotein cholesterol—have anti-inflammatory effects. Scientists reasoned that this might help MS patients, who have areas of brain tissue where the fatty sheath that insulates nerves has been stripped away by an inflammation-based immune onslaught. The damage to these structures, called myelin sheaths, can adversely affect coordination, vision, stamina, speech, and thinking, and it can lead to a shorter lifespan.
In the new study, researchers gave simvastatin (Zocor) to 28 MS patients for 6 months. The scientists used magnetic resonance imaging to reveal brain lesions before and after treatment. They found about half as many lesions, on average, after treatment as there had