How can pioglitazone help treat multiple sclerosis (MS)?

A small double-blind clinical trial involving patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (MS) has indicated that a drug used to treat diabetes shows protective effects in the brain.

At the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) College of Medicine, trial participants were given pioglitazone, a Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved type 2 diabetes drug commercially known as Actos, or a placebo. They continued their normal course of therapy during the trial.

After one year, participants taking pioglitazone, which is known for its anti-inflammatory effects, had shown significantly less loss of gray matter than patients taking the placebo. A report about the study was published in an online edition of the Journal of Neuroimmunology.

A larger trial is needed to confirm these preliminary results, but in the meantime, researchers are trying to learn more about pioglitazone's protective effect on neurons.

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