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Overactive Bladder Drug May Restore Myelin in Multiple Sclerosis

restore myelin in multiple sclerosis

It appears that a drug currently on the market to treat overactive bladder may help restore myelin in patients with multiple sclerosis. More specifically, the drug promotes remyelination, a natural process that fails to progress properly in people who have MS.


Damage to the protective covering (myelin) surrounding the nerves is called demyelination. This process gets worse as the disease progresses and individuals with multiple sclerosis get older. Various scientific teams around the world have been working on ways to stop demyelination and/or restore the natural remyelination process.

Overactive bladder drug study
At the University of Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, a research team under direction of Fraser J. Sim, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, discovered that a drug called solifenacin may support remyelination. Solifenacin has been shown to promote differentiation of oligodendrocyte progenitor cells, which are critical for myelin production and remyelination.

The study involved two steps. First, the researchers transplanted human oligodendrocyte progenitor cells into mice who were incapable of producing myelin and then treated some of them with the drug. The authors observed both an increase in cell differentiation and production of myelin in the treated mice.

Then, the researchers conducted an experiment to determine if the observed positive response translated into an improvement in function or behavior. To do this, the authors subjected the mice to sounds and studied their brain wave activity.

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According to Sim, the mice who were treated with solifenacin displayed signal speeds that were greater than those in the untreated mice. When there is an insufficient amount of myelin, the signaling slows down, but with the addition of myelin, the signals are faster.

Therefore, Sim concluded that he and his team had found a way to improve human myelination. The next step is a small human trial for which Sim and his team are seeking funding. If solifenacin does prove to be helpful in promoting remyelination, approval for multiple sclerosis could be reached rather quickly since it already has approval from the Food and Drug Administration for another use.

Solifenacin for multiple sclerosis
Solifenacin is one of the prescription medications doctors already prescribe for patients with multiple sclerosis who are experiencing overactive bladder. Previous research has shown that the drug can be effective for this common symptom of MS.

Solifenacin (Vesacare) is in a drug class called antimuscarinics. For treatment of overactive bladder, it works by relaxing the bladder muscles. The most common side effects include blurry vision, constipation, dry mouth, dry eyes, fatigue, heartburn, nausea and vomiting, and stomach pain.

Read about a new discovery regarding myelin in multiple sclerosis
Read about alternative treatments for multiple sclerosis

Sim FJ et al. Anti-muscarinic adjunct therapy accelerates functional human oligodendrocyte repair. Journal of Neuroscience2015 Feb 25; 35(8): 3676-88
Van Rey F, Heesakkers J. Solifenacin in multiple sclerosis patients with overactive bladder: a prospective study. Advances in Urology 2011; 834753



I would be very interested in trying this drug both for my bladder problems and if it does anything positive for my MS would be fantastic! I'm a long time sufferer of MS but just recently diagnosed (11/14). I have not taken any DMD's. I am male, 59 and I would love to be able to test this drug for ms.
Mel. Thank you for writing. You say you have bladder problems, so have you discussed with your doctor the possibility of taking this drug? The drug has not yet been studied in humans with MS for the purpose of remyelination, but you may want to talk to your doctor about this topic when you ask about taking the drug for overactive bladder. Good luck to you.
Does this is helpful for Chronic Transverse Myelitis patients?
my son has Transverse Myelitis. Could this be drug benefit him and other TM patients??
This is a good question and I one I am not qualified to answer. Anyone with such questions should discuss it with their healthcare providers.
Good morning. I am a male 53 years old diagnosed with MS for 14 years . I was on Avonex for 12 years and have been swiched to Gilenya in the past 20 months . Talking with my doc las night she had no problem that I try the Vesicare tablets . Will be commencing trial period by the end of the week . Feel excited , as anyone would with MS !
Greetings. I'm a 57-year-old man diagnosed MS 27 years ago. I have tried almost all of the meds for MS and of course am very interested in any new discoveries. I was curious if anyone knows the length of time it took for Vesicare to have any effect on nerve repair? I recently (after reading these articles) asked my doctor to start me on Vesicare. Which he did. I'm not expecting miracles, but what the heck.
Hi, ive been on overactive bladder mediction for years due to my MS, yesterday I had my doctor changed my prescription to this.. lets hope this works;)
Samantha. Please let us know if you experience any improvement. Good luck to you!