Welcome! This blog contains research & information on lifestyle, nutrition and health for those with MS, as well as continuing information on the understanding of the endothelium and heart-brain connection. This blog is informative only--all medical decisions should be discussed with your own physicians.

The posts are searchable---simply type in your topic of interest in the search box at the top left.

Almost all of MS research is initiated and funded by pharmaceutical companies. This maintains the EAE mouse model and the auto-immune paradigm of MS, and continues the 20 billion dollar a year MS treatment industry. But as we learn more about slowed blood flow, gray matter atrophy, and environmental links to MS progression and disability--all things the current drugs do not address--we're discovering more about how to help those with MS.

To learn how this journey began, read my first post from August, 2009. Be well! Joan

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Medications for MS: addressing blood flow

August 22, 2013 at 12:16pm

With the growth of research into the connection of MS to cerebral blood flow,  we've seen an interest in exploring new ways to address hypoperfusion (slowed blood flow), endothelial dysfunction (damaged blood vessels) and  brain atrophy (loss of brain tissue).

Why is this?  Because MS specialists, neurologists and advocacy groups are much more comfortable designing, testing and recommending a drug for MS, rather than encouraging healthy lifestyles and treating venous malformations.  You cannot monetize or patent a diet, exercise and angioplasty.  It's impossible to have a placebo-controlled clinical trial for lifestyle.  But you can develop a drug and make a lot of money selling it to a population with a chronic and degenerative disease.  

Please note that I am not recommending these specific drugs at all, I'm just pointing out how MS research is slowly shifting.  

We saw this paradigm change happen with the Vitamin D.  Six years ago, Jeff's neuro chuckled when I asked to have his D3 levels tested. But slowly, with independent research funded by patient advocacy groups like Direct MS,  the research paradigm has changed. And now, neurologists are testing their new patients' vitamin D levels, and adding supplementation accordingly. I believe we will see this shift continue with drug approaches to reducing hypoperfusion. 

This is tacet proof that blood flow matters in MS.  But you will not hear that from neurologists-yet.   They will discuss cerebral blood flow with their patients when they have a prescription they can write.  

Here's some info on a few of these new medications which target blood flow, currently in clinical trials.

Ibudilast (MN-166)
Clinical trials in progressive MS patients to be lead by Dr. Robert Fox and the Cleveland Clinic with the NMSS.  Dr. Fox received NMSS money to study CCSVI, and after finding new venous malformations in the jugular veins of people with MS, he has moved on to a clinical trial using a vasodilating and neuroprotective drug.  Is this coincidental?

MN-166 has been marketed in Japan and Korea since 1989 to treat cerebrovascular disorders, including post-stroke complications, and bronchial asthma. MediciNova licensed MN-166 (ibudilast), from Kyorin Pharmaceutical for potential utility in MS.

An inexpensive blood pressure medication and ACE inhibitor which modulates angiotensin.  This drug opens up blood vessels and allows blood to flow more easily. This older drug is being developed to treat MS by Dr. Lawrence Steinman of Stanford University School of Medicine.  (Dr. Steinman is also one of the inventors of Tysabri--which he has since spoken out against as a first line treatment for MS.) 

... angiotensin immediately causes blood vessels to constrict. “That raises your blood pressure so when you stand up to get out of a chair, you don’t fall down and faint,” said Steinman, who is also the George A. Zimmerman Professor in the medical school. But angiotensin overactivity causes chronic hypertension. Lisinopril controls blood pressure by blocking an enzyme that converts angiotensin’s precursor into the active hormone. The drug also appears to have certain anti-inflammatory properties.

Here is info on the current study:

 In these studies, lisinopril reduced molecular measures of inflammation that accompany MS, yet it did not inhibit overall immune function.

Although these cholesterol-lowering drugs failed in earlier trials for RRMS, they are now being brought back to life to address brain atrophy in progressive MS.  

Neurologists have not been discussing brain atrophy until recently, now that they are finding drugs to address it.  Please note that statins did not change lesions, t cells, or relapses.  They only slightly modified brain atrophy, most likely due to better blood flow. This research was just presented at the AAN conference in San Diego last March.

The simvastatin and placebo groups did not differ in relapse rate, which typically is low in SPMS patients, Dr. Chataway said. New or enlarging T2 lesions also did not differ between the treatment and placebo groups. In addition, immunological analyses did not reveal a significant difference.

The primary outcome we're looking at is brain atrophy. All of our brains shrink a little as we age. But in SPMS, the brain shrinks a little bit more, by about 0.6% per year. And that can be measured by advanced MR volumetric measures and measured very accurately. That was our primary measure -- to see if we could reduce the rate of brain atrophy. And over this 2-year period, indeed, that was found to be the case over the dummy drug (placebo). It reduced brain atrophy roughly from about 0.6% to about 0.3%. More exactly, by 43%.
The consensus in the MS community is that brain atrophy correlates with disability. If you can slow brain atrophy in the progressive phase, you have a biological marker, which ultimately should have a clinical impact.

Both Lisinoril and statins improve endothelial function in chronic vasculitis.  

Statins lower the density of your blood and make it thinner by inhibiting an enzyme and blocking cholesterol build up.  But what the researchers do not mention is that thinning blood and increasing blood flow to the brain with exercise, venoplasty and nutrition does the same thing...without taking a pill for the rest of your life, or damaging your liver.

What does this mean?   We need to be proactive, look after each other and stay up on the MS research.   
Like many of us, Dr. Terry Wahls, Dr. Ashton Embry and Dr. George Jelinek have read the research and realized that increasing cerebral blood flow, maintaining gray matter and reducing brain atrophy is vitally important.  

That's why Jeff changed his diet and exercise routine as a means of preserving his brain. His neurologist told him that diet and exercise didn't matter much.  But we read the research.  And because of this, six years after an MS diagnosis, he has no brain atrophy and no MS progression. 

All signs are pointing to the fact that maintaining cerebral blood flow and keeping brain matter oxygenated and perfused is essential.  Don't wait another decade for the neurologist to tell you so.

Do it for yourself.  Now.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Thankyou from ENGLAND in UK from me

  3. Joan we wished you lived up in Canada to help educate many Neuros

    1. Thanks, Michelle--appreciate your comment, and all the good work you and the NCS are doing in Canada. We're getting the word out, and every little bit is helping pwMS maintain their health.