UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology


Statins could help control MS

19 March 2014

Research published in the Lancet, led by Dr Jeremy Chataway (Honorary Senior Lecturer, UCL Institute of Neurology and Consultant Neurologist at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery), has found that a high dose of the cholesterol-lowering drug simvastatin reduces the rate of brain shrinkage in people with secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS) by about 40% (the untreated rate is approximately 0.6% a year).

The research, funded by the Biomedical Research Centre at UCL and UCLH, is an exciting breakthrough, as up until now successful clinical trials have mainly focused on treatments for the relapsing-remitting form of multiple sclerosis (MS).

The researchers carried out a phase II proof of concept study to see the effect of high dosage on brain atrophy (measured by MRI) in SPMS.

The study provides an exciting platform that needs to be taken into a late phase III trial to see if the drug has a sustained effect on disability over a three-year period.

This clinical trial is the culmination of long-standing research led by Professor John Greenwood at the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, who said: “After nearly two decades of research, it is immensely gratifying to see this work progress into the clinic to deliver benefits to patients.”

Further information: 

UCL press release

Chataway, J. et al. Effect of high-dose simvastatin on brain atrophy and disability in secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (MS-STAT): a randomised, placebo-controlled, phase 2 trial. The Lancet, Available online 19 March 2014. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(13)62242-4

Image: Dr Jeremy Chataway (credit: Multiple Sclerosis Society)