MAKING LEMONS INTO LEMONADE A COMPUTER GLITCH GIVES BIG TIME SCIENTIST IDEA THAT HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE DRUGS MIGHT TREAT MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS
What does using a blood pressure drug to treat multiple sclerosis have to do with Louis Pasteur? Pasteur's assistant was about to throw into the garbage samples of bacteria they were using in an experiment. The bacteria usually killed chickens but these didn't harm a feather. Pasteur derailed the garbage plan realizing he was on to something, which turned out to be vaccine. This kind of stuff happens in biology, science and medicine a lot more than you might think. I thought of that when I read the amazing story of how a researcher at Stanford got the idea that blood pressure drugs might have some connection with multiple sclerosis.
PNAS (Proceedings National Academy of Science) is carrying a paper about the possibility that a blood pressure drug might have the power to treat multiple sclerosis symptoms. The paper showed an effect in mice with MS like disease. "Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have found a link, in mice and in human brain tissue, between high blood pressure and multiple sclerosis. Their findings suggest that a safe,(when used properly) inexpensive drug already in wide use for high blood pressure may have therapeutic value in multiple sclerosis, as well".
Lisinopril and the class it belongs to, ACE inhibitors, is one of the favorite heart and blood pressure drugs of cardiologists and family practioners. Angiotension Converting enzyme (see why they call them ACE?) inhibitors seem to have added beneficial side effects like heart remodeling.
"The genesis for the paper can be traced to about seven years ago, when Steinman learned he had high blood pressure. His doctor put him on lisinopril, which is used by millions of people all over the world and has an excellent safety profile. Chagrined, Steinman went home and, researcher that he is, immediately did a Google search on the drug. (Steinman is a renowned multiple sclerosis investigator whose earlier work on the inflammatory features of the disease spurred development of a blockbuster class of anti-inflammatory multiple-sclerosis therapeutics. The drug natalizumab, marketed under the trade name Tysabri, is one).
"Long ago, a glitch crept into Steinman’s home computer: No matter what keywords he types into the search field, the computer automatically inserts the additional term, “multiple sclerosis.” Thus, to his surprise, a list of medical literature popped up offering tantalizing, if vague, hints of a possible connection between multiple sclerosis and a fast-acting hormone, angiotensin, whose receptors abound on blood-vessel walls throughout the body."