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Blood pressure drug could combat MS

A simple drug used to lower blood pressure could be the key to fighting multiple sclerosis (MS), according to new research.

Lisinopril is a cheap drug used across the country to control stress. However, when researchers tested it on mice bred to have MS symptoms, they found that it not only prevented paralysis but also reversed it.

MS develops when the body’s immune system attacks myelin, a fatty insulation surrounding nerve fibres in the the brain. Symptoms of the condition can range from numbness, blindness or paralysis.

The Lisinopril study was inspired by earlier research showing that parts of the brain damaged by MS were sensitive to angiotensin, which is hormone that raises blood pressure.

The drug lowers blood pressure by blocking an enzyme that is central to angiotensin production, and when scientists tested this with MS it was shown to reduce inflammation that accompanies MS.

Lisinopril also sparked an increase of regulatory T cells, which contain other cells that could cause damage in the body.

After giving mice the equivalent doses to those that would be prescribed to humans, scientists are confident that humans would also see the effects of MS prevented and reversed.

Copyright Press Association 2009

Multiple Sclerosis Society