MIROCALS (Modifying Immune Response and Outcomes in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) is a clinical trial currently taking place in the UK and France. It is testing a new potential therapy for ALS, the most common form of MND. The drug being tested is called Interleukin-2, which is already used for some types of cancer.
Now recruiting MND patients in Glasgow, who meet the stringent criteria, the study will focus on types of immune cells in the blood, which are capable of influencing the speed at which ALS progresses. This is because these immune cells are believed to play a part in protecting the motor neurones.
Dr. George Gorrie, Consultant Neurologist at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, who will be leading the trial in Scotland, said “This is an important first step in providing patients with MND the opportunity to take part in therapeutic studies in Scotland. This study will take place in Glasgow, however patients from across Scotland, who meet the criteria, are also encouraged to register their interest.
“I am hopeful this study will lead to further drug trials in MND across the country. Enabling patients in Scotland to take part in clinical research is key to advancing the development of effective treatments against this terrible disease.”
Professor Nigel Leigh, Chief Trial Investigator for MIROCALS, said “It is fantastic to have Scotland on board with this trial. This will be a tremendous help in reaching our recruitment target faster and thus being able to complete the whole study as soon as possible. Our main goal is to find a new treatment to slow down the progression of ALS, but this project will also deliver many new insights into the disease, and make a major contribution to improving future trials in ALS and other neurodegenerative disorders.”
MND Scotland have said this is just the start of bringing more clinical drug trials to Scotland.
Lawrence Cowan, Chair of MND Scotland and best friend of late MND campaigner, Gordon Aikman, said “This is an historic moment in our fightback against Motor Neurone Disease in Scotland. Thanks to everyone getting behind MND Scotland we are now able to bring the first clinical trial to this country in 20 years.
“Gordon and I always talked about bringing clinical trials here. I wish so much that he was still with us to see it happen.
“This is the start of something incredible - the new phase of Scotland’s MND research revolution. I want us to bring more trials here. That’s why MND Scotland has created a “time for trials fund” which will invest over £1.5 million to help deliver our ambition of bringing more drug trials to Scotland.
“I believe we can be the generation to cure MND. Together we can make it happen.”
The First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who has supported MND research projects in the past, expressed her delight at the news, “Research and clinical trials are an essential part of work to develop effective new treatments for Motor Neurone Disease and the Scottish Government has recently provided significant support towards a range of research work.
“We want to ensure that people living with MND have access to the best possible care and support across the country. That is why I am pleased that patients in Scotland will now be able to access this trial which I hope can be a major step towards the goal of a cure for this devastating disease.”
To support MND Scotland’s aim to bring more clinical drug trials to Scotland, you can donate online or to donate £5 to MND Scotland, text CUREMND to 70660.
Photo credit: Euan MacDonald Centre