Antibiotics help prevent MS relapses

Adding antibiotics to current multiple sclerosis (MS) treatment could help prevent relapses by halving the number of brain lesions formed by the condition, US researchers suggest.

Currently, patients with relapsing–remitting MS are prescribed interferon beta-1a, but many still experience relapses and may continue to develop new areas of damaged brain tissue, say the researchers.

For this latest study, the researchers examined 15 patients with relapsing remitting MS who had been taking interferon for at least six months and were experiencing symptoms and developing new brain lesions.

For four months, participants were given 100mg doxycycline daily in addition to interferon treatment.

They also underwent monthly neurological examinations and MRI brain scans to detect the formation of brain lesions.

At the end of the study, the researchers found that the combination treatment had resulted in fewer brain lesions, as visualised by the MRI scans.

The average number of brain lesions decreased from 8.8 per MRI scan to just four after antibiotic use was added to the treatment regime.

The participants also had reduced average scores on a scale designed to assess disability levels.

Using a scale ranging from 1.5 to 4.5 to measure increasing disability levels, the researchers found that antibiotic treatment reduced disability severity from 3.8 to 2.3.

During the study, one patient experienced a relapse and two experienced adverse effects, such as muscle pain and fatigue, because of the combination treatment.

View the study published in Archives of Neurology

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