Methimazole to Treat Polymyositis and Dermatomyositis

2014-08-27 03:59:35 | BioPortfolio


This study will test the safety and effectiveness of the drug methimazole in treating polymyositis and dermatomyositis-inflammatory muscle diseases causing weakness and muscle wasting. Although it is not known what causes of these diseases, abnormal immune function is thought to be involved. Recent studies indicate that methimazole, which has been used for many years to treat thyroid disease, may alter immune activity by affecting the interaction between white blood cells called lymphocytes and certain molecules on cell surfaces. This study will examine the effects of methimazole on immune activity and muscle strength in patients with inflammatory muscle diseases and evaluate the drug side effects.

Patients with polymyositis and dermatomyositis who have normal thyroid function may be eligible for this study [age requirement?]. Candidates will undergo a history and physical examination; blood and urine tests; chest X-ray; muscle strength testing, daily living skills questionnaire, and speech and swallowing evaluation; magnetic resonance imaging of muscles; and muscle biopsy (removal of a small piece of muscle tissue under local anesthetic). When indicated, some candidates may also have cancer screening tests (for example, mammogram, Pap smear), a lung function test to measure breathing capacity, or an electromyogram, in which small needles are inserted into a muscle to measure the electrical activity .

Participants will take 30 mg of methimazole by mouth twice a day for 6 months. They will have blood tests weekly for the first 2 weeks and then every other week for the rest of the study to measure blood counts and liver and thyroid function. Blood will also be drawn for white blood cell studies during the screening evaluation, at the beginning of therapy, 6 to 12 weeks after therapy starts, at the end of the 6-month treatment period, and 1 and 3 months after therapy ends. Muscle enzyme and urine tests will be done once a month.. During drug treatment, patients will have periodic physical examinations and blood and muscle function tests to evaluate the response to therapy.


This open label pilot study will assess the (1) activity of methimazole (MMI), a down-regulator of MHC Class I transcription used in treatment of autoimmune thyroiditis (AIT), on the tissue expression of HLA class I and its (2) efficacy as measured by serum muscle enzyme levels and manual muscle testing in up to twenty patients with dermatomyositis (DM) or polymyositis (PM). Participants will have persistent weakness, laboratory evidence of inflammation and be on a stable regimen of medication to control their myopathy. MMI will be administered orally at 30 mg twice a day for six months. Patients will be evaluated for alteration of HLA Class I expression in muscle and peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL) and drug-related toxicities during the study and for three months after the discontinuation of treatment.

Study Design

Endpoint Classification: Safety/Efficacy Study, Primary Purpose: Treatment






National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS)
United States




National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (CC)

Results (where available)

View Results


Published on BioPortfolio: 2014-08-27T03:59:35-0400

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Medical and Biotech [MESH] Definitions

A subacute or chronic inflammatory disease of muscle and skin, marked by proximal muscle weakness and a characteristic skin rash. The illness occurs with approximately equal frequency in children and adults. The skin lesions usually take the form of a purplish rash (or less often an exfoliative dermatitis) involving the nose, cheeks, forehead, upper trunk, and arms. The disease is associated with a complement mediated intramuscular microangiopathy, leading to loss of capillaries, muscle ischemia, muscle-fiber necrosis, and perifascicular atrophy. The childhood form of this disease tends to evolve into a systemic vasculitis. Dermatomyositis may occur in association with malignant neoplasms. (From Adams et al., Principles of Neurology, 6th ed, pp1405-6)

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