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Epilepsy Drug May Prevent Nerve Damage in MS

January 26, 2016

An anti-convulsant drug normally used to treat epilepsy may also prove to prevent nerve damage in patients with multiple sclerosis. The drug phenytoin was found to slow the progress of optic neuritis, a symptom of MS that causes nerves coming from the eye to the brain to become inflamed and damaged. Scientists say that it’s plausible that it has a similar protective effect throughout the brain.

As of now there are no drugs on the market that possess this ability. In the study, 86 people suffering from acute optic neuritis were given phenytoin or a placebo for three months. After the trial period, the group receiving phenytoin had 30% less nerve damage at the back of the eye.

Lead researcher Dr. Raj Kapoor, from University College London's Institute of Neurology, said: "These are promising results and if our findings are confirmed by larger, Phase III trials, could lead to a new treatment that protects nerves from the damage caused both in optic neuritis and throughout the central nervous system in other attacks of MS."