Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic neuroinflammatory and neurodegenerative disease leading to focal and diffuse damage of myelin sheath and axons in the central nervous system (CNS). Pathophysiologically, the adaptive and innate immune system are involved in the inflammatory process, while mitochondrial dysfunction, oxidative stress and failure of remyelination are the main mechanisms in chronic neurodegeneration.
Despite currently available disease modifying treatments (DMTs) that target the immune system, patients continue to accumulate disability leading to progression. Unfortunately, no neuroprotective or remyelinating agents are available as therapy for progressive MS. Hence, drugs to tackle disease progression in MS represent a major unmet need. In this respect, metformin is a very interesting drug to investigate in MS patients as a neuroprotective and remyelinating therapy.
Several preclinical studies in animal models of MS have shown that metformin has both anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective and remyelinating properties. A clinical study with metformin in a limited sample of MS patients did not demonstrate significant adverse events. As metformin is available as generic drug and the price is low (0.10 eurocent per tablet), pharmaceutical companies have no interest is sponsoring clinical trials with this agent.
However, major gains for patients and society may be reached if metformin proves to be a neuroprotective and remyelinating agent. In this research proposal we aim to provide evidence for the neuroprotective and remyelinating effects of metformin (I) in MS patients (P) via measurement of clinical and MRI outcome measures (O), via a multicentre randomized placebo-controlled (C) clinical trial.
This clinical research trial is co-sponsored by Start2Cure next to the Belgian FWO-TBM program and the Belgian Charcot Foundation.