A preliminary trial has found a drug that has long been used in Japan for asthma may slow down brain shrinkage in people with advanced, progressive multiple sclerosis. The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, tested an oral drug called Ibudilast. It is not approved in the United States but has been used for years in Japan as a treatment for asthma and for vertigo in stroke survivors.
Researchers found that the drug slowed brain shrinkage by 48 percent when compared with an inactive placebo among patients with progressive MS.
Multiple sclerosis is a neurological disorder caused by a misguided immune system attack on the protective sheath around nerve fibers in the spine and brain. Depending on where the damage occurs, symptoms include vision problems, muscle weakness, numbness, and difficulty with balance and coordination.
Most people with MS are initially diagnosed with the “relapsing-remitting” form, meaning that their symptoms flare up for a time and then ease.
Patients in this trial had progressive MS, where the disease steadily worsens without periods of recovery.
And while more than a dozen drugs are available to manage