MS lesions halved with antibiotics use

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.

Patients with relapsing-remitting MS are prescribed interferon beta-1a, but many experience relapses and continue to develop 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 but were experiencing symptoms and developing new brain lesions. For four months, participants were given 100mg doxycycline daily with interferon treatment.

They also underwent monthly neurological examinations and MRI brain scans.

The researchers found that the combination treatment had resulted in fewer brain lesions.

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

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.

One patient experienced a relapse and two experienced adverse effects, such as muscle pain because of the combination treatment.

Lead researcher Dr Alireza Minagar, from the Louisiana State University Health Centre, said: 'There is interest in combination therapy in patients with MS to reduce the rates of relapses.

'Oral doxycycline and interferon beta-1a may be effective in patients with MS.'

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