HIV drugs could help to prevent and treat Multiple Sclerosis, say scientists

 

Drugs taken by HIV patients could also be used to prevent and treat multiple sclerosis, scientists say.

Researchers have discovered that people with HIV have a significantly lower risk of developing MS, a debilitating neurological condition. It is not yet clear whether the lowered risk is caused by the HIV virus itself, or by the antiretroviral drugs taken by sufferers. But if future research shows antiretrovirals to be key, it raises the possibility that they could one day be used to help MS sufferers.

, which affects nerves in the brain and spinal cord, causing a wide range of symptoms including problems with muscle movement, balance and vision. The unexpected potential benefits of drugs usually given to people with HIV are revealed in a study published today in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry. The research was prompted by the discovery of a patient who had HIV and MS, and who stayed clear of any MS symptoms for more than 12 years. British and Australian researchers from Oxford University, Queen Mary University of London and the Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney discovered that HIV patients were significantly less likely to get MS than the general public.

An analysis of English Hospital Episode Statistics of HIV sufferers between 1999 and 2011 found a “negative association between HIV and MS” which was “statistically significant”. Data for more than 21,000 people infected with HIV was analysed and compared against a wider group of more than five million non-HIV patients. Those with HIV were 62 per cent less likely to develop MS than those who did not have the virus.

The researchers reported: “If subsequent studies demonstrate there is a causal protective effect of HIV [and/or its treatment], and if the magnitude of it proves to be similar to our rate ratio of 0.38, this would be the largest protective factor yet observed in relation to MS.”

They suggested that the weakening of immune systems in those with HIV “may prevent development of MS” and that “antiretroviral medications” could “suppress other viral pathogens implicated in MS”. Researchers concluded that having HIV and being on antiretroviral drugs “provided a significant and potentially protective effect”.

In an editorial published with the research, Mia van der Kop, an epidemiologist at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, described the study as providing “further evidence to support the hypothesis that there is an association between HIV (or its treatment) and a reduced risk of MS”.

The news was welcomed yesterday by Dr Emma Gray, the research communications manager at the MS Society, who said: “This is a valuable and intriguing new study. Much more research is needed to definitively prove whether having HIV or being treated for HIV with antiretrovirals, or even a combination of the two, reduces the risk of someone developing MS.”

The study “provides some encouragement that antiretrovirals could be a potential future option” for MS sufferers in search of new treatments, Dr Gray said, adding: “Clinical trials are the only way to determine this, and the good news is there is a London-based trial aimed at testing one such drug [at the Royal London Hospital and the Institute of Neurology, University College London].”

News
newsGlobal index has ranked the quality of life for OAPs - but the UK didn't even make it into the top 10
News
people

Kirstie Allsopp has waded into the female fertility debate again

News
people
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
News
Gillian Anderson was paid less than her male co-star David Duchovny for three years while she was in the The X-Files until she protested and was given the same salary
people

Gillian Anderson lays into gender disparity in Hollywood

Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Arts and Entertainment
Swiss guards stand in the Sistine Chapel, which is to be lit, and protected, by 7,000 LEDs
art

The Sistine Chapel is set to be illuminated with thousands of LEDs

Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsA Welsh town has changed its name - and a prize if you can notice how
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
Sport
Ronaldinho signs the t-shirt of a pitch invader
footballProof they are getting bolder
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Middleware Support Analyst

    £45000 - £50000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

    Senior Java Developer/Designer

    £400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: My client are looking fo...

    Domino Developer and Administrator

    £40000 - £45000 Per Annum + benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Domino ...

    IT Teacher

    £100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Group: Full or Part Time ICT Teacher ...

    Day In a Page

    Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

    Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

    A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
    Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

    Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

    The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
    An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

    An app for the amorous

    Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
    Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

    Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

    Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
    Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

    Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

    After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
    She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

    She's having a laugh

    Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
    Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

    Let there be light

    Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
    Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

    Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

    Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
    Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

    A look to the future

    It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
    The 10 best bedspreads

    The 10 best bedspreads

    Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
    Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

    Arsenal vs Galatasaray

    Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
    Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

    Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

    This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
    Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

    The children orphaned by Ebola...

    ... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
    Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
    The magic of roundabouts

    Lords of the rings

    Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?