Huge MND trial goes live

Hundreds of people living in the UK have been invited to take part in a pioneering clinical trial for Motor Neurone Disease (MND).

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People who live with the illness, which progressively prevents signals from the brain reaching muscles, will be allowed to undergo several treatments at once. This makes it one of the most widespread clinical trials in a generation.

The initiative, MIND-SMART, aims to find treatments that can slow, stop or reverse MND and is looking for clinical trial volunteers.

What is MND?

According to the MND Association, MND can:
• cause muscles to weaken and stiffen
• affect how you walk, talk, breathe and eat
• change the way people think or behave.

There is a 1 in 300 risk of getting MND and there is currently no cure. That is why this clinical trial is being hailed as ground-breaking.

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How will the trial work?

Due to this trial being a multi-arm trial, participants will take more than one treatment at the same time. They will be compared to a single group that will be given a placebo. This means that, unlike usual trials where only one drug is tested, more participants will receive an active treatment.

The trial will also be adaptive, meaning drugs can be changed once researchers start to see emerging results. Treatments that are not working can be dropped and others can be added.

Medicines that have already been endorsed as treatments for other diseases will primarily be used in the first stage of the trials. This is likely to reduce adverse effects in trial participants. Lengthy authorisation processes can be shortened by repurposing drugs in this way, resulting in medicines being widely available much more quickly.

How can I be a clinical trial volunteer?
The trial has been designed to be open to as many people with MND as possible. Also, to help participants, the drugs that are to be taken are in liquid form, making them much easier to swallow. Video calling is being introduced for some appointments, reducing the number of times people will have to travel to the clinic.

Finally, to avoid confusion or ambiguity, all trial materials have been written so that everyone can understand what is happening.

The first participants will begin the trial in Edinburgh and then it will be rolled out UK-wide during 2020.

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