The trial is being led by researchers at the Euan MacDonald Centre for MND Research at the University of Edinburgh and the trial will include as many people with MND as possible, regardless of how the disease or current treatments affect them.
While typical clinical trials focus on a single drug, MND-SMART will use a "multi-arm" trial design which will allow more than one treatment to be tested at a time. This will give patients a higher chance of receiving an active treatment, rather than a placebo.
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 re-purposing 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.
We committed to bringing more MND trials to Scotland in 2020. As a result, MND Scotland has invested £1.5 million in MND-SMART to allow this pivotal drug trial to take 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.
MND-SMART is now recruiting people with MND in Edinburgh and Dundee - which are the first two centres to come online.
Further trial centres are expected to open across the UK in the following locations: Aberdeen, Birmingham, Cambridge, East London, Glasgow, Inverness, Irvine, Newcastle, Salford and Southampton.
People with MND are invited to register interest in the trial at www.MND-SMART.org. The first participants will be seen in Edinburgh with other clinics across the UK joining during 2020.
Lawrence Cowan | MND Scotland Chairman