University of Utah School of Medicine researchers have revealed that statins, commonly used for lowering cholesterol levels, can effectively treat blood vessel disorder that can lead to strokes, seizures or paralysis.
According to cardiologist Dean Y. Li, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Molecular Medicine Program and corresponding author of a study statins can offer a safe, inexpensive treatment for cerebral cavernous malformation (CCM), a disorder with no known drug therapy.
"Brain surgery or radiation treatment has been the only option for CCM patients. But because of the risks in those operations, neurosurgeons are reluctant to perform them unless the patient is in immediate danger," Nature quoted Li as saying.
"Our study proposes a potential strategy for a simple drug therapy that could cost only a few dollars a month at a pharmacy. However, our animal studies must first be evaluated in a pilot clinical trial being initiated," Li added.
"Cavernous angioma or cerebral cavernous malformation is a common but little known illness that can strike with devastating consequences for individuals in any stage of life," said Connie Lee of the Angioma Alliance.
Three known genes have been associated with genetic-related CCM, but the role of those genes, Ccm1, Ccm2, and Ccm3, is still not known.
In the study conducted using mouse model, researchers isolated two distinct mutations of Ccm2.
They analysed the increased activity in Rho, an enzyme that regulates endothelium formation.
Li and co researcher Kevin J. Whitehead, M.D., also a cardiologist, assistant professor of internal medicine theorized that increased Rho activity in endothelial cells might lead to the blood vessel defects seen in CCM patients.
They tested their hypothesis by administering simvastatin, which is known to inhibit Rho activity, to mouse models with the Ccm2 mutations and saw that the drugs strengthened the damaged blood vessels in the mice.
The study is published in Nature Medicine.