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MND SMART – a new approach to clinical drug trials


20 January 2020


A ground-breaking MND clinical drug trial is about to launch in Scotland. The platform, MND-SMART, is a UK-wide trial which aims to find treatments that can slow, stop or reverse the progression of MND.

While clinical trials usually focus on a single drug, MND-SMART will allow more than one treatment to be tested at a time, giving participants a higher chance of receiving active treatment, rather than the placebo.

Led by researchers at the Euan MacDonald Centre at the University of Edinburgh, the clinical trial aims to find effective medicines more quickly. Open to UK residents, the trial will include as many people with MND living in the UK as possible, regardless of how the disease or current treatments affect them.
The clinical trial is designed to be adaptive, allowing researchers to modify their approach as results emerge. New drugs can be added once the trial has started, while medicines that prove ineffective can be dropped.

Researchers will begin by testing drugs that are currently licensed for use in other conditions to check whether they offer any benefit for people with MND.
This repurposing of existing drugs avoids some of the lengthy approvals processes associated with new drugs, potentially reducing the time taken for the medications to become available to people with MND by years.

Dr Suvankar Pal, who is overseeing the trial says: “There has been a lack of progress so far with discovering new therapies for motor neurone disease and I think anything that we can do to improve the quality of life and the survival of people with MND is a step forward for this condition”.

It's early days yet, but we will be watching the MND SMART trial with interest. This innovative approach offers real hope and could be adopted in future clinical trials worldwide.

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