Major trial of statins to treat multiple sclerosis begins 

12/09/2018 00:00 
Today marks the start of the biggest ever trial for secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS) in the UK, under the leadership of UCLH consultant neurologist Jeremy Chataway.

With around 30 sites across England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Eire, MS-STAT2 will involve 1,180 people with SPMS – a form of the condition that currently has little effective treatment.

Co-funded by the MS Society, the MS-STAT2 trial is the final stage trial of simvastatin for SPMS. This Phase 3 study will confirm whether simvastatin could become amongst the first drugs to slow or stop disability progression for this form of the condition, offering new hope to thousands.

MS affects over 100,000 people in the UK, and most expect to develop a progressive form of the condition. It causes problems with how people walk, move, see, think, and feel. Positive results from a smaller trial showed simvastatin – currently used to treat high cholesterol – could improve levels of disability and slow disease progression. It also reduced the rate of brain atrophy (shrinkage), suggesting the treatment could protect nerves from damage in SPMS.

Nearly 30 sites all around the UK and Ireland will be recruiting for the trial until the end of 2019, including London, Sheffield, Leeds, Edinburgh, Poole, Glasgow, Belfast, Dublin, Nottingham, Cambridge, Manchester, Cardiff and Exeter.

Bruce Barrett, 40, lives in Oxfordshire with his wife and two sons, hopes to participate. He said: “I live with uncontrollable tremors, which means everyday activities like brushing my teeth and getting dressed are really difficult. This trial gives me a lot of hope – if it leads to a new treatment for SPMS, it could completely change my quality of life. It might mean one day I could kick a ball around the park with my boys, rather than sit in a wheelchair watching them.”

Professor Chataway said: “Simvastatin is a very promising treatment prospects for secondary progressive MS in our lifetime. People with this form of the condition have been waiting decades for a drug that works, which is why there’s such excitement around being able to start the trial. While it’s still early days, we believe simvastatin could change lives.”

The multi-million pound trial is being funded by the MS Society in collaboration with the National Institute for Health Research, the National MS Society (US), the NHS and UK universities.

Dr Susan Kohlhaas, Director of Research at the MS Society, said: “We are incredibly proud to be funding MS-STAT2, because we know what it could mean for people living with progressive MS. This condition is unpredictable, painful, and often exhausting, but finding an effective therapy means debilitating symptoms aren’t inevitable.

“Today if you’re diagnosed with this form of MS you don’t have any options, but we’re getting closer to changing that, and hopefully delivering the solution everyone has been waiting for.”

If you have secondary progressive MS and would like to be considered to participate in MS-STAT2, you can register your interest here.

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