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First multiple sclerosis clinical trial for patients who can’t walk to begin recruitment

Published on 19/11/20 at 12:45pm

The first clinical trial to focus on multiple sclerosis (MS) patients who can’t walk will begin enrolling patients next year. 

The ChariotMS study will test whether Mavenclad can slow the rate of upper limb disability and progression in people with advanced MS. If successful, the study could lead to the first MS drug authorisations to protect upper limb function. 

Professor Klaus Schmierer, from Queen Mary University of London and Barts Health NHS Trust, who is leading the trial, said: “Finding ways to maintain people’s upper limb function is essential to their quality of life, but until now walking ability has been the only official measurement of whether or not an MS treatment is effective.

“This has excluded people who depend on a wheelchair from taking part in trials and, as a result, from accessing effective treatment that will help maintain their hand and arm function.”

From January 2021, the study will recruit 200 people with MS who can only walk a short distance with two crutches, or are unable to walk but have some upper limb function. The trial is funded by the Efficacy and Mechanism Evaluation Programme, with additional funding coming from the MS Society, the National MS Society USA, Barts Charity, and Merck Serono.

Mavenclad is currently approved for highly active relapsing MS. According to the MS Society charity there are no disease modifying therapies available for 35-40% of people with MS who need significant help walking. 

Dr Emma Gray, Assistant Director of Research at the MS Society, said: “More than 130,000 people live with MS in the UK, and those with more advanced forms can experience difficulty with walking, relying on mobility aids like walking sticks and wheelchairs to help. But as MS progresses, many go on to experience problems with their hand and arm function too – and treatment options start to disappear.

“Preserving hand and arm function would unquestionably improve the quality of life of people with MS, helping them to live more independent lives. That’s why we’re so thrilled to help make this important trial a reality.”

Conor Kavanagh

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