SALT LAKE CITY, Jan. 28 (UPI) -- A blood vessel disorder that can cause fatal hemorrhagic strokes, seizures or paralysis in mice can be treated with statin drugs, U.S. researchers have found.
University of Utah Health Science researchers said that if the results of a study in mice are confirmed in a pilot trial with people, statins could provide a safe, inexpensive treatment for cerebral cavernous malformation, a disorder with no known drug therapy.
Dr. Dean Y. Li, director of the Molecular Medicine Program at the University of Utah who was an author of the study, said brain surgery or radiation treatment has been the only option for cerebral cavernous malformation patients.
"But because of the risks in those operations, neurosurgeons are reluctant to perform them unless the patient is in immediate danger," Li said in a statement. "Our study proposes a potential strategy for a simple drug therapy that could cost only a few dollars a month at a pharmacy."
However, the animal studies must first be evaluated in a pilot clinical trial in humans being initiated, Li said.
Cerebral cavernous malformation is a disorder in which blood vessels in the brain become dilated and weakened, and leak blood, causing strokes, headaches, seizures or other problems, explained Li.
The researchers suspect statins, such as Zocor, Lipitor and similar drugs, treat cerebral cavernous malformation by stabilizing blood vessels so they don't leak.
The findings are published in the Nature Medicine.