Antihistamine shows potential to repair neuron damage in multiple sclerosis

Research shows an over-the-counter antihistamine could act as a remyelinating agent in multiple sclerosis

MRI scan of brain with multiple sclerosis

Current treatments for multiple sclerosis (MS) aim to reduce the risk of further inflammation-mediated damage to the myelin sheath, which surrounds neuronal axons. Preliminary research has indicated that clemastine fumarate, an over-the-counter medication initially marketed as an antihistamine, has potential as a remyelinating agent.

In a crossover study published in The Lancet (online, 10 October 2017), 50 patients with relapsing MS were randomly assigned to clemastine fumarate or placebo for 90 days, before switching treatment for 60 days, in addition to their current immunomodulatory therapy[1]

The team found a significant reduction in visual-evoked potential latency delay (a measure that is sometimes used to confirm a diagnosis of MS) after treatment with clemastine fumarate. The effects were consistent in both groups and persisted even after patients switched to placebo. The drug was associated with fatigue, but no serious adverse events were reported.

The results are the first evidence of drug-induced myelin repair in a chronic neurodegenerative condition, the team concluded.


[1] Green A, Gelfand J, Cree B et al. Clemastine fumarate as a remyelinating therapy for multiple sclerosis (ReBUILD): a randomised, controlled, double-blind, crossover trial. Lancet 2017. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(17)32346-2

Last updated
Clinical Pharmacist, CP, December 2017, Vol 9, No 12;9(12):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2017.20203897

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