According to a story from the Edinburgh Evening News, Stephen Ritchie of Edinburgh, Scotland, has been an active participant in a progressive multiple sclerosis clinical trial since November of last year. This trial is testing a drug called simvastatin as a treatment for the disease. Although Stephen is not completely sure if he is taking the drug or a placebo, he claims that, at least initially, the drug appeared to be working for him.
About Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis is a neurological disease which is characterized by damage to the myelin sheath, an fatty, insulating, protective covering that surrounds nerve cells and allows the to communicate effectively. Although a precise cause has not been determined, multiple sclerosis is considered an autoimmune disease, in which a certain trigger, such as an infection, may cause the immune system to mistakenly attack healthy tissue. Smoking and certain genetic variants are also considered risk factors for the disease. Symptoms include blurred vision, double vision, blindness in one eye, numbness, abnormal sensations, pain, muscle weakness, muscle spasms, difficulty speaking and swallowing, mood instability, depression, loss of coordination, and fatigue. There are a number of treatments available for the disease, but no cure. Life expectancy for patients is slightly reduced. To learn more about multiple sclerosis, click here.
Getting Involved in Clinical Trials
The trial involves taking two tablets per day, but since Stephen doesn’t know if he is getting the real drug or not, the exact dosage is a mystery to him. Every couple of months, he checks in with the doctors running the trial. During the first week or so, Stephen claims that the treatment massively improved his balance, but the effect didn’t last for very long.
While it may seem risky to get involved in a trial where you may not even get the drug being tested, the fact remains that there simply aren’t many effective treatments for the progressive form of multiple sclerosis. So with that in mind, Stephen had little to lose by participating.
This long term trial will take a total of six years to complete. Although Stephen isn’t feeling any dramatically better results currently, he still is convinced he is taking the real drug because of the results of an earlier blood test.
Simvastatin is currently used to treat high blood pressure, but an earlier, smaller scale trial suggested that patients with progressive multiple sclerosis could benefit from taking it.