Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 23rd 2015 Contents B26
body & soul
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Thursday, April 23, 2015
Two common drugs---one used for treating ath-
lete s foot and another for alleviating eczema---
may be useful therapies for multiple sclerosis,
In early animal studies, the medicines repaired
some of the cell damage and paralysis seen in MS.
The drugs encouraged new growth of myelin to
coat and protect the nerves. Experts say although
the results in Nature journal are promising, people
should not be tempted to self-medicate.
Much more work is needed to check that the
treatments will work in people. Lab tests on human
cells already hint that they might. The two drugs
in question ---an antifungal called miconazole and
a steroid called clobetasol---are currently topical
medicines that are applied as creams to the skin.
They already have a good safety history for treating
these conditions, says lead researcher Dr Paul
Tesar, from Case Western Reserve School of Med-
icine in the US.
He says the formulation of the drugs would
need to be changed so that they could be better
targeted to the nervous system where MS strikes.
In MS, the body s immune system mistakes
myelin for a foreign body and attacks it. This leads
to progressive disability. Current medications for
MS can help slow or prevent this attack, but they
cannot replace myelin. A number of
researchers are looking at existing drugs
to see if they can be reclaimed for treating
Dr Tesar s team screened a library of
more than 700 existing drugs to find any
that would promote new myelin produc-
tion by the individual s own cells. Dr Tesar
said they were working tirelessly to get a
safe and effective drug for clinical use.
"We appreciate that some patients or
their families feel they cannot wait for
the development of specific approved
medications. "But off-label use of the
current forms of these drugs is more likely
to increase other health concerns than
alleviate multiple sclerosis symptoms."
Prof Daniel Altmann, an expert in
immunology at Imperial College London,
said: "There has been tremendous progress
in recent years in development, clinical
trials and licensing of new drugs that aim
to block the immune attack and thus ame-
liorate progress of disease.
"The problem that has been much hard-
er to crack is what to do about the fact
that this still leaves patients with irre-
versible disability through the damage to
the myelin sheaths in the central nervous
system that has been sustained."
He said the fruits of this approach to
treating MS were still "a little way off".
Dr Sorrel Bickley of the MS Society
said: "More than 100,000 people in the
UK live with MS, which is why there is
a huge unmet need for new therapies that
can repair the damage to myelin that
occurs in the condition. (BBC)
Mindfulness provides a set of skills that any
person can use to keep well in the long term.
help treat depression
A mindfulness-based therapy could offer a
"new choice for millions of people" with recurrent
depression, a Lancet report suggests.
Scientists tested it against anti-depressant pills
for people at risk of relapse and found it worked
just as well. The therapy trains people to focus
their minds and understand that negative thoughts
may come and go. In England and Wales doctors
are already encouraged to offer it.
Patients who have had recurrent clinical depres-
sion are often prescribed long-term anti-depressant
drugs to help prevent further episodes. And experts
stress that drug therapy is still essential for many.
In this study, UK scientists enrolled 212 people
who were at risk of further depression on a course
of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT)
while carefully reducing their medication. Patients
took part in group sessions where they learned
guided meditation and mindfulness skills.
The therapy aimed to help people focus on the
present, recognise any early warning signs of
depression and respond to them in ways that did
not trigger further reoccurrences. Researchers com-
pared these results to 212 people who continued
to take a full course of medication over two years.
By the end of the study, a similar proportion of
people had relapsed in both groups.
And many in the MBCT group had been tapered
off their medication. Scientists say these findings
suggest MBCT could provide a much-needed alter-
native for people who cannot or do not wish to
take long-term drugs. (BBC)
YOUR DAILY HEALTH
News and advice
Athlete's foot drug may be MS therapy
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