First drug shown to promote remyelination

October 11, 2017

We hear about ‘breakthroughs’ frequently in MS, and mostly of course, they are not! On this occasion, despite the drug that researchers were testing being an old drug commonly prescribed for hayfever, they found definite evidence of improved neurological function after taking the drug, and the improvement persisted when the drug was stopped. It seems highly likely, given what the researchers have previously tested, that the drug promoted remyelination, something which no agent has previously been able to do.

The research team at University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), led by Prof Jonah Chan tested the drug clemastine (trade name Tavist) which has been licensed by the FDA for 40 years now for use in hayfever and allergies and is now a cheap generic. Importantly they tested the drug in people with chronic longstanding MS who had quite a bit of central nervous system damage. To their surprise they used a sensitive test of the speed of transmission of nerves in the visual pathways and showed that it speeded up substantially, meaning that transmission through the whole central nervous system was likely to be speeded up for those taking this medication. The dose of drug used was 5.36mg twice daily, for a daily dose of 10.72mg, whereas for allergy, the recommended dose is no more than 2.68mg three times daily, for a daily dose of 8.04mg. The only important side effect of large doses is sleepiness, and in this study, participants were more likely to report fatigue, which may reflect that.

While much more work needs to be done before this drug could be licensed in MS, the research is really a breakthrough, showing that repairing damaged myelin is now a realistic possibility. Read the full paper here.

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144 thoughts on ‘First drug shown to promote remyelination

    • Hi Terri, we aren’t involved with the trials or research ourselves. If you would like to get more information, you can probably contact the researchers at the Department of Neurology, University of California, San Francisco. Kind regards, OMS team.

      • I just happen to have an appt at the UCSF MS Clinic next week. I will bring this up to my Neurologist, he also usually has students observing so it will be helpful to them also. I have tried to sign up for many trials and because I am 69 years old they say I am too old. I was just diagnosed 15 months ago! I was active, healthy, athlete prior to MS. They don’t take that into consideration. Really upsetting, because I want to do all I can to be as healthy as possible for whatever time I have left!

        • Lynn don’t be discouraged! I was an athlete when I was diagnosed in 1983. My neurologist said that was probably the reason I did so well for 25+ years. If I can give you any advice I would tell you or anyone else to REALLY STRETCH FROM THE DAY YOU WERE DIAGNOSED!!! Although I was athletic, now that my RRMS has started to take a turn for the worse, I am very stiff and rigid! For your benefit please stretch,stretch and have someone help you stretch every single day!!

        • Hi Lynn – I’m was diagnosed just 4 months ago – at 70! I’ll let you know how applying for research goes for me. Austin is opening the new University of Texas Dell Medical School here and some pretty famous MS researchers have moved here to practice. I want to help too

        • Lynn F. Look into HSCT. It’s a Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant. Join the FB groups. Thousands of us have had it. It reboots your immune system wiping out MS. It will not repair permanently damaged myelin. I am PPMS dxed in 2012 and had it done against my.neuros advice and have experienced many benefits including stopped progression. Go to YouTube and watch Kristy Cruise’s 6O Minutes documentary. It will change your life!!

  1. I am in my mid 40”s & have PPMS. I am fit, eat very healthily and would be very keen to participate in any future trials. Ben

    • Hi Ben, good to hear that you are doing well! We aren’t actually conducting the trials ourselves. If you would like to get more information, you can probably contact the researchers at the Department of Neurology, University of California, San Francisco. Kind regards, OMS team.

  2. What great news! My sister is diagnosed with MS since almost a year and we are always looking for news about breakthroughs.
    The only thing is that, at first we are very happy. But then you realize that this is not available yet in the Netherlands (we live there).
    When we confront the neurologist with new breaktroughs like this, he is always very sceptical. If it’s up to him everything will we tested a hundred times before he will prescript this medicin.
    Meanwhile the situation of my sister can get worser. How long do we have to wait for this medicin? We need it asap!

    • I’ve been a cynic of “our system” for years (American, by the way)…. so some sick twist like that wouldn’t shock me. However, the active ingredient is reportedly not patented, has multiple manufacturers, and is available in over the counter allergy medications. Like all drugs there are some reported side effects, so despite it being over the counter it would probably be unwise to rush to the pharmacy to pick up a box without consulting a physician. I’m not a doctor so don’t mistake any of these comments for medical advice.

      Info on the patent/manufacturer related aspects of the active ingredient
      https://www.drugpatentwatch.com/p/tradename/CLEMASTINE+FUMARATE

    • Hi Anne,
      I was just wondering, would it be illegal, to order from an online pharmacy, where you are? If it is over the counter, then it should be available, online. Of course, its best to have the physician, over sight, and advise, with any new medications. Maybe, can see about a different physician, who maybe open to the clinical trials, and give it a try, to see if there is any improvement, once start, the medication? The other idea, maybe a allergy medication that is available where you are. Some medications that are the same, have a different name. in different places, something the physician should likely know a little more about. It makes a lot of sense, since much of the ms is inflammation, due in part to the attacks on the central nervous system, which would cause inflammation at the site or sites, that is or are, weakened and affected. At that point, follow the recommended dosage, as available, for the time being. Of course have to be careful, attentive to climate changes, if the medication dries the patient out too much, for example, if have nose bleeds easy, due to capillaries close to the skin, and dry weather or dry heat. In that case, a humidifier, is recommended or heating water, to cause moisture in the air. IE: the use of a heater in the winter time, often times can cause the air to be very dry, in turn, cause those types of problems, in addition to any other problems. Also keeping in mind any other health concerns, like blood pressure, etc. In the U.S. we have medications such as coricidan hbp. An allergy medication, that takes high blood pressure into consideration. Or if have any cardiac concerns, would want to pay close attention, to any medications, that can affect cardiac conditions, fluid retention for example, or the lungs, asthma, etc. kidney function, bowel habits, eating good, fiber, fruits, etc. ability to utilization of the restroom, on ones own. Whether have help available, to do so, if that is a concern and not wanting to be a bother, many things to take into consideration, that a physician, is usually attentive to, and basically without saying, has information, regarding their patient. Their advise, is crucial, due to the many considerations that go into a physician’s decision making processes, recommendation’s, therapies, tests, prescriptions, etc. So is one reason, it is so important, to follow the recommendations of the patient’s, physician. There are so many possibilities, that are of concern, when someone has an illness such as ms. It is not impossible, but, having the qualified, medical attention, is absolutely, necessary, due to the many possibilities, regarding a variety of illnesses and possibilities. Foods rich in vitamin c, vitamin e, garlic, or the actual vitamins, are very positive treatments, for someone who has blood clots, or a heart attack. But equally important, to know why that may happen. What conditions can cause those problems to happen. Necessary to be seen by a physician, a medical doctor. Knowing what medications can cause those problems to happen, if it is not something normal to that patient. another reason, to affectively monitor any medications a patient maybe on. Allergy medications can also mask, some allergies if a physician or medical doctor, starts a patient on a new medication, and it may work against a patient who is allergic to that medication, and a allergy medication, may cover up the allergy, and if the doctor doesn’t know, of a medication, they may not know if they are making a patient better or worse, is another very big reason, a doctor needs to know, all medications, over the counter, or vitamins, all are equally as important, as any medicine. Food allergies, another concern, also important to know, any new foods anyone would start, while trying to treat their selves, or any other condition they may have. I know it can be very difficult, and doctors can be very expensive. Also for some, in some parts of the world, scarry. From a limited number of doctors, or Due to some fears, related to vaccinations, however, it is important to have vaccinations, without fear of a physician. They do their best to make people better. Not always out of the kindness of their hearts, but, it does help their profession, when they have more people getting better, while under their care. So, while I mentioned the possibility, to acquire, legally, the medicine, I also, always strongly advise, the advise and supervision, of a qualified medical doctor, a md. or a physician, medical physician, a do. letters that behind their name, that suggest they have the education to treat patients. MD’s, DO’s, NP’s, etc. Natural paths, homeopathic physicians. a MD is a medical doctor, a DO, is a doctor of osteopath, and more likely to practice, mostly natural method’s, of medical care. I personally look for md’s. if they are available. There are many other initials that can behind a persons name, that qualifies them, as medically educated, like dentists, that can prescribe medications, etc. I also realize there are not a lot of physicians every where. Pharmacists, are usually very qualified to explain medications, vitamins, and natural treatments, or the potential for adverse affects. At the very least, have a program available to them, to look certain information up, for further guidance. It is always best, to seek a qualified professional, as humanly possible as you can. If are able to get the medication, I strongly advise, a call to the patients doctor, to make sure that allergy medication, is ok, for that patient to take, at the very least, ask the np, or the doctors office, if it is ok to add that allergy medication, or another, to the patients medical regimen. Best wishes, and hope the patient is doing better. MS is very difficult to deal with. Take care.

  3. The drug company will take a relatively inexpensive drug and skyrocket the price, knowing so many people are desperate for it to work. Hope it is the miracle that we wait for, but have a hard time trusting the drug companies not to rape and pillage us financially.

    • I’ve been a cynic of “our system” for years (American, by the way)…. so some sick twist like that wouldn’t shock me. However, the active ingredient is reportedly not patented, has multiple manufacturers, and is available in over the counter allergy medications. Like all drugs there are some reported side effects, so despite it being over the counter it would probably be unwise to rush to the pharmacy to pick up a box without consulting a physician. I’m not a doctor so don’t mistake any of these comments for medical advice.

      Info on the patent/manufacturer related aspects of the active ingredient
      https://www.drugpatentwatch.com/p/tradename/CLEMASTINE+FUMARATE

  4. I’m desperate for any improvement. I have SPMS so I don’t know if I would be considered. If there are any trials planned in UK, London area or South East UK please let me be a guinea pig. I’ll try almost anything.

    Thank you,
    Karen

    • Hi Karen, we’re sorry to hear about your situation. Unfortunately we aren’t actually conducting the trials, just reporting on the news of the research. If you would like to get more information, you can probably contact the researchers at the Department of Neurology, University of California, San Francisco. Kind regards, OMS team.

  5. This is very exciting news. I have had MS for 32 years. I will definately be staying tuned for the general release of this therapy. Thank you Overcoming MS for sharing this article.

    • Hi Jodi, we aren’t sure that there are plans for a trial in Australia. For more information, it would be best to contact the researchers at the Department of Neurology, University of California, San Francisco if you’d like more information. Kind regards, OMS team.

  6. I have longstanding ms and would really love this drug to be what u say I would be willing to try it is it available through your Dr ?

  7. interesting. Its sold over the counter in my country. One could feel tempted to try it out for a couple of months as in the study.

    • Hello Amellia, we aren’t actually conducting the studies ourselves but you could get in touch with the researchers at the Department of Neurology, University of California, San Francisco if you’d like more information.

  8. I’ve been diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS for 21years.ive been pretty stable while on COPAXONE for most of 19 years except for 2 attempts at using TECFIDERA & AUBAGIO for 6 mos. each with not very good results. Back on COPAXONE and stable. I do have some disability…drop foot on my right side and an inability to raise my right leg by bending my knee. I use a cane outside, a walker inside and a scooter for long distances. I am 70 years old, and would love to reverse at least some of this disability to be able to interact more with my Grandchildren. Does this drug look promising for such an outcome? I have an 11 year old who would love for Grandma to ride bikes with him. I’m adventurous, I’ve made plans to celebrate my 70th Birthday with a tandem skydiving event.. Thank you.

    • Hi Dot, at this stage it is too early to say. Further research on the topic is needed to fully understand the potential benefits of clemastine therapy for people with MS.

  9. This has far broader implications for other diseases than MS, diseases like ALD which is a devastating missing enzyme disease where demyelination occurs in all 30 versions.

  10. I’ve been saying for years MS and allergies are closely linked. Esp allergies that over estatubate the immune system. When I started taking daily allergy pills low doses it help my symptoms tenfold. I then started treating with low dose Allegra. Helped with the numbness, tingling, and my motor skills.

  11. Hurry up and Help is whom have this Disease. It’s not killing me but it’s Killing my spirit of the the person I used to be and Want to be again but Can’t!!! I can’t do the things I was capable of doing!! And it’s frustrating l

  12. Of course you can always print out this article and take it to your trusted physician and see if he/she will prescribe it for you so you can test it for yourself.

  13. Incredible news! Found a lower dose of it over-the-counter for $6.99 for 16 tabs. I wonder now, that it has been discovered to have such huge benefit if the drug companies will remove it from the market and repackage it for $6,000 a month…. ?

  14. Please sign me up! I go to the UCSF MS Clinic anyway for my ongoing treatment. I need to improve the quality of the rest of my life. I was active, healthy athlete until 15 months ago when the MS truck hit me!

  15. Oh my, this is awesome drug.

    I have drug tysabry now but eyenervous has been damaged for few months.

    I could try on this if that is impossible someday here in Finland.

    Best regards
    Tea Kivimäki

  16. Clemastine (Tavist) is actually available over the counter as an anti-histamine drug. However, the given daily dose on this trial was above the regular OTC daily dose. With that being said, you have to take multiple tablets in order to mimic the trial. There is a link to obtain the full paper. Please print it out and bring it to your MS appointment to show your doctor and hopefully he/she can prescribe you with the prescription clemastine (higher dose).

    Tablet, Oral, as fumarate:

    Dayhist Allergy 12 Hour Relief: 1.34 mg [scored; sodium free]

    Tavist Allergy: 1.34 mg [scored; sodium free]

    Generic: 1.34 mg [DSC], 2.68 mg

    • Clemestine Fumerate is available OTC in many small stores like Walgreens for example. It’s called Wal-hist. USP 1.34 mg Antihistamine.

      I cannot a bigger dose…

      All the best!

  17. I can not wait for this to be used for MS!! I’ve been diagnosed since 1993 and it’s believed that I had it for 15 yrs. before the diagnosis. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE ,let’s get this done:-) I am 76 and can’t wait forever. I’m in good health otherwise. I’d be willing to be in a test group.

  18. Janet, beautifully put. So many desperate, terrified and worthwhile humans around the world are being brutally beaten up by this relentless bastard that is MS. I was plagued by copious snot; swollen glands; endless sneezing and itchy red eyes, not to mention awful digestive issues, as a teenager. Then diagnosed with MS c. 22nd birthday after horrific migraines/spinal pain agony; violent vomiting and foot drop/right leg paralysis. 20+ years on and I find it difficult to put into polite words how outrageous and foul it would be for big pharma to cripple this glimmer of hope. Yes, make profit for retiree shareholders and recognise dedicated researchers but do keep it ‘G’ rated

  19. MSer From across the pond….Oh, all the best, guys & gals….Fingers ‘X’d’ for everyone, lets hope, really hope, that this is the ‘One’ & it doesn’t become a ‘battle’ ground for the ‘Big Pharma Companies’…. ‘Whats the saying, ‘hope springs eternal’.

  20. This is excellent news, and exactly why state funding of Public Universities and medical research should be a priority worldwide.

    • Hi Melody, it would be interesting to see. Hopefully this study will spark further research into the benefits. Regards, OMS team

  21. In the study, the speed of the neural signal transmission was increased by 1.7 m/s, and the clinical effect not reach statistical significance when subjects was tested for improvement in vision contrast.
    Does that mean, that the effect does not translate into any meaningful clinical improvement for PWMS as far as restoring lost function goes? Or should the it be seen as a valuable neuro protective treatment worthwhile pursuing.

    Any thoughts anyone ?

  22. I’d be willing to be involved in any trials that come about. I’ve been on antihistimines my entire life. I am allergic to, pretty much, everything, including dust mites! The allergist I went to, and was tested by, suggested that I cover my furniture in plastic, remove all potential allergens from my home and then told me it would take FOUR rounds of different allergy shots to, maybe, help me but he couldn’t guarantee anything. I have been sticking with OTC generic zyrtec 2x per day. I take generic zyrtec-d when the congestion gets really bad. I have NOT covered my furniture in plastic and I have 2 dogs and 2 cats (I tested off the scale for both animals). I believe that desensitization works. I also feel that if I’d done as he said and then gone somewhere with allergens, I would have had a massive allergy attack and that would have been very bad. I was diagnosed with MS, just before my 50th birthday in 2012, but I’ve had “odd” symptoms for years that were attributed to other things. Now they make sense. In the meantime, I will be talking to my PCP & MS Neuro about this stuff.

  23. Just like so many others I hope this drug works too reverse the MS. I too would like to participate in any studies for this drug and assist in determining the efficacy asap.
    I wonder how many of us will try the OTC?!

  24. I still cannot believe it. Read it yesterday and this morning I thought it was a dream, had to check! And???? Yes!!! It is true!!

  25. Had allergies really bad as a child. Had to stop taking all allergy meds as I now have high eye pressure & narrow angles in my eyes. Unfortunately it’s likely I cannot take this med if I want to keep my sight.

  26. Could you tell me whether it’s thought that clemastine might be effective in the treatment of CIDP (chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy)? Many thanks.

    • Hi Cary, this is quite a specific question that we aren’t really able to answer online. Usually we would ask you to email contac[email protected] so we could forward your query on to our medical doctor but unfortunately he is away on leave at the moment and thus we won’t be able to get an answer to you quickly. It is probably best to discuss this with your doctor. Warm wishes, OMS team

  27. I’m in the UK and I have a box of these tablets in the house. Some of these anti allergy tablets seem to have the recommended 10mg from the study. I think they were a £1 a box

  28. Yes you can get clemastine easily enough here in the UK but it contains lactose. Dairy kills me so if anyone else reacts badly to it do be careful.

  29. Has this medication been tested or used for people, such as myself, who have Trigeminal Neuralgia and Occipital Neuralgia?

    • Hi Jane, this particular study wasn’t but perhaps future research will look into those conditions specifically. Regards, OMS team

  30. Going to talk with my neurologist about prescribing a drug to me. I do hope that the pain that I experience will also go away and that I will be able to use my hands and arms and legs again without spasms!

  31. I dont have ms but uncompensated vestibular neuropathy where i have no balance mechanism working from the brain messages not being able to do their job. 24/7 with no balance. I am about to try the same treatment for ms… any comments welcomed

    • Hi Michael N. Very interesting to read that you are living proof that this drug actually worked! Can you tell how long you have been taking it before you noticed the first positive effects on your walking?

  32. I’ve been taking it about 4 years now. It’s OTC, so no need for the prescription. They announced the preliminary results over 2 years ago, the start of the study (and what prompted it) over 4.

    It works. At half the dosage UCSF used, I was able to go back to walking without a cane for about a year. Maybe it’s their dosage, I didn’t want to go past the allergy dosage without the new data (and have allergies anyway), and that might put the cane away again. Maybe some of the damage is done and it will only partially help. Either way, I’m checking in with the neurologist.

    Diagnosed 2012.

    • Dear Michael! Wow so you are living proof that this drug actually worked! Can you tell how long you have been taking it before you noticed the first positive effects on your walking?

  33. I was diagnosed with MS in 1971 I had RRMS then it became Progressive MS. I will definitely see my MD about clemastine as I just started taking Melformin which is also supposed to help

    • Hi Heather, this specific study was only looking into clemastine unfortunately. It seems clemastine is available under the brand name Tavegil in the UK but it does require a prescription.

  34. I was in this trial. It is my understanding they need to go to a larger trial group before it’s a go. The qualifier to be in the trial was you had to have optic nerve damage, but not necessarily optic neuritis. The VEP is encouraging. Clemastine is available under the brand name Tavist and Wal-hist at Walgreens. When I go to Walgreens, I buy it in bulk. I don’t take it every day, but I’ve replaced my sleep meds and antihistamines w Wal-hist. In the US, don’t bother w CVS or Kaiser. They want a prescription. Just go to Walgreens.

  35. I am currently taking Fingolomid. I don’t feel that this is working for me as I constently feel ill. Would it be safe for me to buy these over the counter and give it a go?

  36. Thank you for the reply, I am in the UK. Are they doing any trials I can get on in the UK? I cant find it over the counter anywhere, I may have to go to my GP or Neurologist. Thanks

    • Hi Heather, it doesn’t seem that there are any trials of this nature in the UK at this point in time unfortunately. Kind regards, OMS team

  37. Hi. This is great. This drug is freely available. I have PPMS. Any suggestions. On what dosage I should take. Also has anyone tried this drug and seeen positive results. If yes after how long and what dosage did u take. Hope someone replies. Thx.

  38. ive got ppms and ive just started taking travegil, i’m only taking 4 x 1mg tablets a day. at the minute ,but will increase weekly. should of seen my doctor ,but it would take 3 weeks and i’m getting worse so what have i got to loose. i’m in the UK.

    • Hi Carina,

      I have cpms for 15 years, and I started Wal hist 1.34 mg a day. And I do feel good. More stable. It’s been a month, and hopefully will double the dose in a week. Will post the results. Otherwise write to me.

      😂Nuri

  39. My daughter, 29 years, used Tavegyl as from the 27th of October. She started with one tablet at night and slowly increased to 6 tablets at night. The changes became noticeable about 3 weeks later. Now two months later, she is a totally different person. She had terrible fatigue. She was not able to work more than 20 hours per week. After just 2 months she is able to work again and has enough energy and clearness of mind. The numbness has decreased considerably. It is like the time has been turned back many years. I am so thankful. It is certainly worth the try.

    • Where did she find it? I’ve searched everywhere and can’t find it, only from Veterinary websites and am not sure if it’s safe for people to take

  40. Hey, I followed the link To ” read full report” from top of this page. Down on the 3rd paragraph. Am I missing something, they want 💰💰 from me to view report. Has anyone seen and read the full report ?.

    • Hi there, unfortunately a lot of the medical journals don’t publish the full report online for free. They provide a summary but require you to make a payment or take out a subscription to have full access. Kind regards, OMS team

  41. Most likely have PPMS because of new lesions on cord. Started taking 1.34 mg Clemastine twice daily for about 3 weeks until able to get script for 2.68 mg tabs. Started taking 2.68 mg twice daily on 12/22/17. Yes, it does make you sleepy but also feel very dried out because anti-histamine. Using Blink contact eye drops frequently. Have had left lower leg numbness/pain for several years and bilat foot pain/numbness since diagnosed approx 13 years ago. After taking Clemastine now for approx 2 months, my left leg numbness gone and so is bilat foot pain/numbness (which was especially difficult at night when trying to fall asleep). Is the Clemastine working?? I don’t know, but I have definitely seen improvement in my MS symptoms. I have done nothing different in my day-to-day except adding this drug. Making adjustments for fatigue and dryness is something I’m happy to do if it help re-myelination.

    • i’m just starting with this experiment – ppms for at least 4 years – would like to follow your experience…
      any changes since your last post?

  42. I’ve had MS for 20 years and I have tried EVERYTHING, from ABC’s, aminoperidine to LDN, CCSVI, Stem Cell … you name it. Nothing has worked so far and I’ve been wheelchair bound for a decade. Has anyone noticed that clemastine is harder to find in the USA? A couple sites claim the supply is currently exhausted. Big pharms already working on controlling price and access.

  43. My son has had MS for about 25 years. Nearly died with Tysabri. Terrible stuff. Has been wheelchair bound for about eight years. He is now on Ocrevus. And has permission from his neurologist to take Low Dose Naltrexone at night. This is only available from compounding pharmacy, the best being made by Skip Lenz of Skip’s Pharmacy in Boca Raaton, Florida. People in CA can only use pharmacies located in CA! But if your own compounding place calls Skip’s he will tell them the best combination of “stuff” to put in it. My son is also taking Clemastine Fumarate twice daily in the amount used at UCSF tests. Very hard to find! But easily found for dogs with itches from suppliers for veterinarians. Only two places in USA now mak;ing clemastine fumarate.(cf). Compounding docs in CA can’t locate a supplier for people!! However, our dogs need it for their itchy skin——–and are willing to share with my son. He has only been taking cf for three weeks and can already detect improvements in his vision. Maybe it is only in his head———-but in this life, take what you can get!! Many thanks to the researchers at UCSF for their open minds and incredible talents on behalf of MS sufferers.

  44. I don’t know if I have MS or not, but I have some of the symptoms, which I had attributed to 1) age 2) not enough exercise 3) diet and supplements. Many aches and pains, issues with stool/urine, etc. I do have chronic daily migraines which is my worst health problem. Wonder of wonder, I don’t have any if I take a daily small dose of Clemastine. This is a miracle for me. However, since discovering this 2 months ago (I had a cold, so was in my medicine cabinet) I have had issues finding the drug. I recently ordered from a Canadian on line pharmacy and it is shipping from the UK. Frankly, it is either taking a triptan or Clemastine daily (and the risk of dementia), I’d rather risk the dementia as triptans are terrible drugs.

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