Combining an antibiotic with a medication currently used to treat multiple sclerosis may slow progression of the disease, according to researchers at the Louisiana State Health Sciences Center in Shreveport.
Their study included 15 patients (average age 44.5) with relapsing-remitting MS who’d been taking interferon for at least six months and were experiencing symptoms and developing new brain lesions.
For four months, the patients took 100 milligrams daily of the antibiotic doxycycline in addition to their interferon therapy. During the study, they had monthly neurological examinations, MRI brain scans and blood work.
At the end of the four months, 60 percent of the patients had a more than 25 percent reduction in the number of brain lesions. Patients also had lower disability scores. One patient relapsed. Side effects were mild and included only the known side effects of the two drugs individually, rather than side effects caused by combining the two medications, the researchers said.
The study, funded by Biogen Idec Inc., was posted online Dec. 10 and will be published in the February 2008 print issue of the Archives of Neurology.
“There is a growing interest in combination therapy in patients with MS to stabilize the clinical course, reduce the rate of clinical relapses and decelerate the progressive course of the underlying pathologic mechanism,” the study authors wrote. “Overall, data from this cohort suggest that the treatment combination of oral doxycycline and interferon beta-1a may be safe and effective in some patients with MS; however, further controlled clinical trials are warranted to demonstrate safety and efficacy in a larger patient population.”