Treatments for Post-Polio Syndrome
Finding better treatments for post-polio syndrome has been an active area of research.
Post-polio syndrome research scientists have tried treating post-polio syndrome patients with alpha-interferon, but this treatment proved ineffective. Another study in which post-polio syndrome patients received high doses of prednisone showed mild improvement in their condition, but the results were not statistically significant. This, in addition to the drug's side effects, led researchers to recommend that prednisone not be used for post-polio syndrome treatment.
In an effort to reduce fatigue, increase strength, and improve quality of life in patients with post-polio syndrome, scientists conducted two controlled studies using low doses of the drug pyridostigmine (Mestinon®). These studies showed that pyridostigmine is not helpful for post-polio syndrome patients.
In another controlled study, scientists concluded that the drug amantadine is not helpful in reducing fatigue. And other researchers recently evaluated the effectiveness of modafinil (Provigil®) on reducing fatigue and found no benefit.
Preliminary studies indicate that intravenous immunoglobulin may reduce pain, increase quality of life, and improve strength. Researchers are currently studying the benefits of this intravenous immunoglobulin.
The future of post-polio syndrome treatment may center on nerve growth factors. Since post-polio syndrome may result from the degeneration of nerve sprouts, growth factors can target these and help to regenerate new ones. Unfortunately, one small study that scientists conducted showed that insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1), which can enhance the ability of motor neurons to sprout new branches and maintain existing branches, was not helpful.