Doctors in the UK are working to set up a clinical trial to administer antiretroviral medications designed for people living with HIV/AIDS to people suffering from multiple sclerosis after one woman claimed the drugs helped her walk again.
The woman, 36-year-old East Sussex resident Shana Pezaro, was a dancer and piano teacher before she was diagnosed with MS at the age of 28. The degenerative and incurable disease affected her hands and feet so severely that she’s been confined to a wheelchair.
Miraculously, Pezaro said she was able to walk up a flight of stairs three days after she took the drugs. “I can’t normally stand up,” she says in video obtained by the BBC. “It’s such a massive change I can’t even begin to tell you,” she adds while sitting at the piano, noticing she’s regained the ability to play.
Prof Julian Gold from the Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney moved to set up a clinical trial to examine the impact of HIV drugs on MS patients immediately after seeing a video of Pezaro clearing a flight of stairs.
According to Gold, antiretroviral treatment may suppress other viruses that may cause MS. (This is debatable, though, as doctors still aren’t sure exactly what causes MS and some in the medical community dispute it’s a virus at all).
“The next stage of the investigation is to use a very similar combination [of HIV drugs] that Shana took. I think that might be quite optimistic,” said Gold.
A spokeswoman for the MS Society added, “Our growing understanding tells us that viruses have a role to play in multiple sclerosis and it will be interesting to see the trial results – positive findings mean another step on the road to beating MS.”