LONDON, March 19 (Xinhua) -- Taking statins could significantly improve multiple sclerosis sufferers' lives, and slow their brain shrinkage, according to a British study published in Lancet on Wednesday.
Statins are a class of drugs including simvastatin, atorvastatin and lovastatin. They are commonly used cholesterol-lowering pills.
Researchers at University College London (UCL) reported that statins could also benefit those suffering from multiple sclerosis, which is a major cause of disability, affecting nerves in the brain and spinal cord.
In their phase two trial, researchers randomly assigned 140 people with secondary progressive multiple sclerosis to receive either 80mg of simvastatin, or a placebo for two years.
According to researchers, in late stage, the brain shrinks by around 0.6 percent per year, while in patients who received statins, that shrinkage was reduced to 0.3 percent a year, a 43 percent reduction compared to the placebo group.
Describing it as a "surprise" discovery, the researchers also urged caution on their findings.
"Because these might not necessarily translate into clinical benefit," Lead researcher Dr Jeremy Chataway said.
He added"However, our promising results warrant further investigation in larger phase three disability-driven trials."