By Michelle Roberts Health editor, BBC News online
(An extract from the above article)
Early trial results in The Lancet show the cholesterol-lowering pills slow brain shrinkage in people with MS.
The University College London (UCL) scientists say large trials can now begin.
These will check whether statins benefit MS patients by slowing progression of the disease and easing their symptoms.
MS is a major cause of disability, affecting nerves in the brain and spinal cord, which causes problems with muscle movement, balance and vision.
Currently there is no cure, although there are treatments that can help in the early stages of the disease.
Usually, after around 10 years, around half of people with MS will go on to develop more advanced disease – known as secondary progressive MS.
It is this later stage disease that Dr Jeremy Chataway and colleagues at UCL hope to treat with low cost statins.
To date, no licensed drugs have shown a convincing impact on this later stage of the disease.