Psoriasis Medication Offers Hope For MS Treatment

Researchers from the Ruhr University Hospital in Bochum are suggesting that medication used to treat severe psoriasis may also be used to help treat multiple sclerosis. Fumaric acid salts have long been known as an effective treatment for psoriasis. Researchers also say that it may offer some favorable effects in treating multiple sclerosis as well.

Psoriasis is an auto-immune disease similar to multiple sclerosis where the immune system attacks the body’s own cells. In the case of MS, the immune cells attack and destroy the insulating myelin layer of neurons in the central nervous system, affecting nerve signals from the brain and to the other parts of the body and vice versa.

The use of fumaric acid salts as possible treatment for MS has already been suggested as early as ten years ago. Ruhr University Bochum dermatologist Prof. Peter Altmeyer suggested to a colleague, neurologist Prof. Horst Przuntek that a fumaric acid salt mixture to treat psoriasis that goes under the trade name FUMADERM may also have favorable effects in treating MS as well. This led to conducting a small study in Bochum where 10 patients were examined for a period of 48 weeks. A parallel study was also undertaken by Prof. Ralf Gold at the MS Institute in Gottingen. The study sought to find the effective mechanisms of the said medication in treating MS.

The studies indicate that fumaric acid salts work by detoxifying damaging oxidative radicals that is released during inflammation processes. This effect helps support the survival of the nerve cells. This is unlike any other current medications used for MS where suppression and modulation of the immune system functions are the main objectives. This may provide a new avenue where researchers may be able to find more effective means to treat MS.

In possible support of this finding, an international, placebo controlled blind study involving 1,200 MS patients and the use of fumaric acid salt BG12 has just been completed. Evaluation of the data is expected to be completed and released around the summer of this year. According to Prof. Gold, who led the said undertaking, “If the study is successful, one could easily imagine that the antioxidant effect of the fumaric acid also synergizes with established MS medication such as interferon-ß thus forming an ideal combination therapy,”

“This is significant insofar as both fumarates as well as interferon do not contain any long-term risks according to the current state of knowledge — unlike many modern strong MS therapies,” Prof. Gold further added.

Source: Ruhr-Universitaet-Bochum. “Psoriasis medication rises hope in the fight against multiple sclerosis.” ScienceDaily 7 March 2011. 8 March 2011 <­/releases/2011/03/110307101450.htm>

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