I am excited because I have been asked to participate in the MS SMART trial. This is a trial for people with secondary progressive MS. 3 drugs have been selected. They have shown the potential to protect nerves from damage, which could ultimately stop or slow disability progression. For the trial you are allocated at random one of the drugs or a placebo. This is exciting news for people suffering from Secondary Progressive MS. At the moment there is nothing available that can offer any hope to sufferers of SPMS.

MS SMART trial

MS SMART trial will use 3 existing drugs

Three drugs have been selected

  • amiloride (licensed to treat heart disease)
  • fluoxetine (licensed for depression)
  • riluzole (licensed to treat MND)

Over the next couple of years

I will write blogs about this trial and how I feel. For me the MS-SMART trial will last for two years. The screening was in mid-December 2015. I will start in January 2016. It will involve is taking a pill in the morning and evening and keeping a diary and the occasional visit to Neurological Unit at Queens Square, London.

The first visit

It is the screening to find out if I am eligible, sign the consent forms, take some blood for testing and undergo a 90 minute MRI scan. I am eligible and I am invited to participate.

The MRI scan was not too bad. The idea of an hour and a half in a cigar tube with an almighty racket does not sound very appealing. Would you believe I almost fell asleep? I was able to switch off and let my mind wander. It was the only way to last 90 minutes without moving. I was given headphones but all I heard against the background noise was that Jose Mourinho had been sacked.

90 minute MRI scans

These are done at the start and end of the trial. The trial team will compare both scans at the end to assess the shrinkage of the brain and spinal cord. This will show the progress of the disability caused by multiple sclerosis. The shrinkage measures the loss ofd the myelin sheath which protects the ne

The MS Smart trial also includes another three sub trials under the one major trial. One involves looking at the retina of the eye, additional MRI scans and a test of the cerebrospinal fluid (CBF). This involves lumbar punctures. I’ve had them before and lived, so I‘m up for them again.

No pharmaceutical company is involved with the MS-SMART trial. Things might change at Phase III. This is mainly because the drugs already exist and are not expensive. MS-SMART is a £2.7m trial led by Dr Jeremy Chataway at UCL (University College London) and Professor Siddharthan Chandran. Sadly the trial turned out to be a failure

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