HEALTH MATTERS: LANDMARK MOTOR NEURONE DISEASE TRIAL BEGINS

The Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, where the trial team will be based.

By Bill Heaney

A groundbreaking clinical trial for motor neuron disease (MND) began this week at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH) in the local health board area.

The pioneering trial MND-SMART is testing multiple drugs, rather than a single treatment at a time, and so aims to speed up the time it takes to find medicines that can slow, stop, or reverse the progression of MND.

The trial, based at the QEUH, will welcome participants from across the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde region, including West Dunbartonshire,  which cares for the largest number of people living with MND.

Motor neuron disease (MND), also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS, is a progressive condition that causes muscle to waste away. It occurs when nerve cells called motor neurons, which send messages from the brain and spinal cord to the body’s muscles, stop working properly.

More than 1,500 people are diagnosed with MND in the UK each year. There is no cure and half of people die within two years of diagnosis.

Rugby international Doddie Weir and the late Jimmy Johnstone training with his Celtic team mates, Bobby Lennox and Kenny Dalglish.

Sports personalities, including Scottish rugby international Doddie Weir and football’s the late Jimmy ‘Jinky’ Johnstone,  of Celtic and Scotland, pictured here training with Celtic team mates Bobby Lennox and Kenny Dalglish, and  have been amongst those who have unfortunately contracted this vicious disease.

MND-SMART is a pioneering clinical trial in its reach and design and is recruiting hundreds of people living with MND across the UK to take part in tests of potential treatments.  Unlike typical clinical trials which test a single treatment at a time, MND-SMART is testing multiple drugs and so aims to speed up the time it takes to find medicines that can slow, stop, or reverse the progression of, MND.

Dr George Gorrie, Consultant Neurologist and Lead for Motor Neurone Disease Greater Glasgow and Clyde, said:  “The MND-SMART trial launching in Glasgow is some good news at a time when there isn’t much around.

“Ensuring the safety of people taking part in MND-SMART is the research team’s highest priority and we will follow all government requirements relating to COVID-19 and research.

“The pandemic and ensuring practices are COVID-19 compliant will impact how quickly people can be recruited to the trial but we are delighted to be able to start seeing participants.”

Those who have already registered online interest in the trial and who live in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde area will be contacted by the Glasgow trial team over the coming months to discuss taking part.

The trial was first announced in January and centres are due to open across the UK. Glasgow is the third such centre after Edinburgh and Dundee.

The trial has been developed by people with MND and clinical trial experts from across the UK. The study is led by the Euan MacDonald Centre for MND Research at the University of Edinburgh.

Funding for the trial has been provided by the Euan MacDonald Centre, substantial private donations, MND Scotland and the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation.

For further information about the trial please visit http://www.MND-SMART.org

Dr George Gorrie, Consultant Neurologist and Lead for Motor Neurone Disease, Greater Glasgow and Clyde, including West Dunbartonshire.

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