Hundreds of people living with MND are now being invited to take part in one of the UK’s most comprehensive clinical trials in a generation.
Currently, over 400 people in Scotland are living with MND and this trial will be open to almost every person in Scotland with the illness.
The platform, MND-SMART, is a UK-wide trial which aims to find treatments that can slow, stop or reverse progression of the terminal disease.
While typical clinical trials focus on a single drug, MND-SMART will allow more than one treatment to be tested at a time, giving patients a higher chance of receiving an active treatment, rather than a placebo.
MND Scotland committed to bringing more MND trials to Scotland in 2020, and by investing £1.5 million this pivotal research is now taking place. This investment accounts for more than half of the charity’s annual turnover, highlighting the importance of the charity’s mission to find a cure. Additional funding for the trial has also been made available from the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation and the Euan MacDonald Centre for MND Research.
The project, which is being led by researchers at the Euan MacDonald Centre at the University of Edinburgh, has been developed to find effective medicines more quickly. The clinical trial will include as many people with MND as possible, regardless of how the disease or current treatments affect them.
The first participants will be seen in Edinburgh with other clinics across the UK joining during 2020.
The clinical trial is designed to be adaptive so that the researchers can modify their approach according to emerging results. New drugs can be added once the trial has started, while medicines that prove ineffective can be dropped.
Initially researchers will test drugs that are already licensed for use in other conditions to check whether they offer any benefit for people with MND.
This repurposing of existing drugs avoids some of the lengthy approvals processes associated with new drugs and could cut years off the time taken for the medications to become available to people with MND through the NHS.
Lawrence Cowan, Chairman of MND Scotland, said: “Today is an historic moment in our fightback against Motor Neurone Disease and because of the incredible generosity of our supporters, MND Scotland has invested £1.5 million into MND-SMART.
“MND killed my best friend Gordon Aikman so suddenly, I never got a chance to say a proper goodbye. But I did make a promise to him that I would fight for everyone to have access to drug trials. I wish he was here to see this day.
“This is one of the biggest MND trials the UK has ever seen - and it’s open to almost everyone with the disease.
“We will continue to fight to give people with MND access to effective treatments, and to beat MND once and for all. Together we can make it happen.”
Dr Suvankar Pal, Neurologist and MND-SMART Co-Investigator, said: “We’re very excited to be launching this trial. It gives real hope to people with MND across the UK.
“We’re hugely grateful to the people with MND who have helped us design the trial and we think their involvement will mean that far more people will be able to take part.
“I would also like to thank our key strategic partners, and specifically MND Scotland, alongside all the donors and fundraisers who have made this possible.”
People with MND are invited to sign up to the trial at www.MND-SMART.org.
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Suvankar Pal | MND-SMART Co-Investigator