People living with Motor Neurone Disease (MND) wanted for major drug trial

Dr Suvankar Pal, Neurologist and MND-SMART Co-Investigator; Lawrence Cowan, chair of MND Scotland; and Euan MacDonald, who is living with MND and co-founder of the Euan MacDonald Centre for MND Research. (Photograph: MAVERICK PHOTO AGENCY)
Dr Suvankar Pal, Neurologist and MND-SMART Co-Investigator; Lawrence Cowan, chair of MND Scotland; and Euan MacDonald, who is living with MND and co-founder of the Euan MacDonald Centre for MND Research. (Photograph: MAVERICK PHOTO AGENCY)

A ground-breaking clinical drug trial for Motor Neurone Disease (MND) has been launched thanks to a £1.5 million investment from the charity MND Scotland.

Hundreds of people living with motor neurone disease are now being invited to take part in one of the UK’s most comprehensive clinical trials in a generation.

Currently, more than 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 the placebo.

MND Scotland committed to bringing more MND trials to Scotland in 2020, and by investing £1.5 million this pioneering 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.

The project, which is being led by researchers at the Euan MacDonald Centre for MND Research at the University of Edinburgh, has been developed to find effective medicines more quickly.

It will include as many people with the condition as possible, regardless of how the disease or current treatments affect them.

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.

Lawrence Cowan, chair of MND Scotland, said: “This is a 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.”

People with MND are invited to sign up to the trial at MND-SMART Clinical Trials

To continue supporting the fight against MND you can donate £5 by texting CUREMND to 70660, or you can donate online at MND Scotland