A Danish study shortly to be published in the major international journal Multiple Sclerosis has shown for the first time that a cholesterol-lowering drug (simvastatin), one of the statin group of drugs, improved outcome significantly for people with MS having an acute attack of optic neuritis.
The randomised controlled trial randomised people to receive 80mg daily of simvastatin for six months, or a placebo.
None of the people in the study received steroids. While contrast sensitivity, the primary outcome showed only a trend towards improvement in the simvastatin group, a number of other measures of the damage caused by the optic neuritis showed significant improvement, and people taking the simvastatin rated their vision as better than the placebo group.
While there has long been interest in the possibility of using statins as a disease-modifying treatment to reduce the number of relapses in people with MS, this is the first study to use these drugs as an acute treatment for a particular relapse.
It adds to the likelihood of the statins being useful for MS, and also underscores the likely role of fats in the disease.