Lipoic Acid

New Directions in MS Research: New Therapeutic Approaches

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Lipoic acid is a naturally occurring compound that has antioxidant properties and also has an impact on the function of the mitochondria, the so-call “energy plants” of cells. A Phase II trial involving 118 participants is examining whether daily oral intake of lipoic acid can reduce the impact that progressive MS has on brain atrophy and patients’ mobility.95

Fifty-nine study participants will take 1,200 mg of lipoic acid by mouth every day for two years. The other 59 participants will take a placebo. The primary outcome measure will be the change from baseline to Year 2 in the time it takes subjects to walk 25 feet. Other endpoints include change in brain volume from baseline to Year 2 as measured by MRI, and change from baseline to Year 2 in number of falls and in distance covered in a twominute timed walk. Safety measures will also be assessed. The estimated completion date for the study is April 2021.95

The Phase II study under way now follows a smaller, single-center randomized trial of lipoic acid that yielded favorable results in people with secondary-progressive MS. In that double-blind study, 27 people took 1,200 mg of lipoic acid daily for two years, while 24 participants took placebo on the same schedule. After two years, people in the lipoic acid group had a 68% reduction in the annualized percent change in brain volume – a measure of brain atrophy, or shrinkage – compared to the placebo group. More gastrointestinal upset but fewer falls occurred among the people taking lipoic acid relative to those receiving placebo, and there was one case of unexpected renal failure and a separate case of serious kidney injury in the lipoic acid group.96

Other studies are assessing the impact of lipoic acid on blood glucose, diabetes, and complications of diabetes.

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