Two common drugs – one used for treating athlete’s foot and another for alleviating eczema – may be useful therapies for multiple sclerosis, scientists believe.
In early animal studies, the medicines repaired some of the cell damage and paralysis seen in MS.
The drugs encouraged new growth of myelin to coat and protect the nerves.
Experts say although the results in Nature journal are promising, people should not be tempted to self-medicate.
Much more work is needed to check that the treatments will work in people.
Lab tests on human cells already hint that they might.
The two drugs in question – an antifungal called miconazole and a steroid called clobetasol – are currently topical medicines that are applied as creams to the skin.
They already have a good safety history for treating these conditions, says lead researcher Dr Paul Tesar, from Case Western Reserve School of Medicine in the US.
He says the formulation of the drugs would need to be changed so that they could be better targeted to the nervous system where MS strikes.