A clinical trial
has investigated the safety and effectiveness of corticosteroids for treating Human T-cell lymphotropic virus type 1-associated myelopathy.
Human T-lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1) infects at least 5–10 million people globally. Moreover, it causes rare but devastating diseases, including HTLV-1-associated myelopathy (HAM) and adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma (ATL) in a small proportion of infected individuals.
HTLV-1-Associated Myelopathy (HAM) is a neurological disease caused by HTLV-1. This virus is endemic in certain parts of the world, such as Japan, the Caribbean, and parts of South America, where it can be transmitted from mother to child or through blood transfusions or sexual intercourse. HTLV-1 infection can remain asymptomatic for many years, but in some people, it can cause severe inflammation and damage to the spinal cord, leading to sensory loss, muscle weakness and paralysis, and bladder and bowel dysfunction.
To date, there is no definitive treatment for HAM. Interferon alpha has been used but its effectiveness is limited. Corticosteroids have been proposed as a potential treatment option for HAM, however strong clinical evidence justifying their use is deficient.
Corticosteroids are a type of medication that can reduce inflammation in the body and are commonly used to treat conditions such as asthma, allergies, and autoimmune disorders.
A team of researchers from Japan, Brazil, and the UK has conducted a clinical trial to determine the efficacy of corticosteroid therapy for HAM.
The trial involved 39 patients with HAM rapidly and slowly progressing walking disabilities. These patients were randomly assigned to receive either prednisolone or a placebo for six months. The researchers evaluated the participants' symptoms by measuring the improvement in the Osame Motor Disability Score or improvement in the 10 m walking time.
The results of the study showed that corticosteroid therapy was significantly more effective than the placebo in improving the participants' muscle strength and spinal cord function. The patients who received corticosteroids reported a significant improvement in their HAM symptoms compared to the control group.
Moreover, the clinical study found that prednisolone therapy was generally safe and well-tolerated by the participants, with no serious adverse effects reported.
The researchers concluded that corticosteroid therapy can be a useful treatment option for patients with HAM, particularly in those with severe symptoms and functional impairment.
The clinical trial
provides promising results for the treatment of HAM, a debilitating neurological disease that currently has no cure. Corticosteroid therapy appears to be safe and effective in reducing inflammation and improving spinal cord function in patients with HAM, offering hope for those living with this condition. However, it is important to consult a doctor before commencing any treatment for HTLV1-Asociated myelopathy.