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Wednesday, June 20, 2018
First clinical trial to recognize the needs of severely disabled MS patients
Jun 13, 2018 - UK NEWS
A new clinical trial testing a disease-modifying drug for multiple sclerosis (MS) will be the first in the world to recognize the importance of wheelchair users retaining the use of their hands
QUEEN MARY UNIVERSITY OF LONDON
A new clinical trial testing a disease-modifying drug for multiple sclerosis (MS) will be the first in the world to recognise the importance of wheelchair users retaining the use of their hands.
The team from Queen Mary University of London, Barts Health NHS Trust and pharmaceutical company Roche, hope that the study will make lasting changes in a field that has previously only looked at a patient's walking ability when assessing the potential of MS drugs.
MS is a degenerative disease of the central nervous system affecting approximately 120,000 people in the UK and 700,000 people in Europe, of which around 96,000 have the highly disabling primary progressive form.
Until now, clinical trials involving people with MS have focused on whether or not the drugs being tested preserve the ability to walk, rather than preserve the use of their hands. For example, if the person relies on a wheelchair, they have been excluded from participating in trials in the past.
Additionally, the NHS in the UK stops treatment with disease-modifying therapies for people who lose lower limb function and rely on a wheelchair, and the European Medicines Agency has also been an obstacle to those patients from participating in this type of research in the past. This is despite growing evidence that continuing treatment may delay worsening of their hand and arm function, which could dramatically improve quality of life.
Lead researcher Professor Gavin Giovannoni from Queen Mary University of London and Barts Health NHS Trust said: "Addressing the needs of people with progressive MS, who are typically more advanced in their disease course, is one of the major frontiers in MS research. Around a third of people living with progressive MS may already be confined to a wheelchair, so maintaining hand and arm function is essential for them to stay independent and lead active lives."