Authors: Olivia Stevenson, Future Science Group
A landmark Phase III trial for secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS), known as the MS-STAT2 trial, has begun in the UK. Researchers hope to determine whether simvastatin could be an effective treatment for the disease.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) affects more than 100,000 people in the UK. If the symptoms of an individual with a relapsing form of MS get increasingly worse over a period of at least 6 months, they can be said to have developed SPMS.
Simvastatin is currently utilized in the treatment of high cholesterol; however, a smaller study in the past has shown that treatment with simvastatin could improve the symptoms of SPMS and may slow disease progression. This study also led researchers to believe that simvastatin could reduce the rate of brain atrophy, potentially preventing some nerve damage in patients with SPMS.
In this study, funded by the MS Society (London, UK), in collaboration with the NIHR (London, UK), the National MS Society (NY, USA), the NHS (UK) and a number of UK universities, researchers hope to confirm whether simvastatin could be a potential new method of slowing or even stopping the progression of disability for individuals with SPMS.
The MS-STAT2 trial is set to be the largest ever trial for SPMS in the UK. It will be taking place across almost 30 sites in the UK and Ireland, and collecting data from 1180 individuals with SPMS. The study will be carried out over 6 years, so that researchers can understand the long-term effects of this treatment.
Jeremy Chataway (UCL Institute of Neurology, London, UK), who is leading the trial, said: “Simvastatin is one of the most promising treatment prospects for SPMS 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.”
Researchers anticipate that the results of this study could demonstrate that simvastatin treatment may lead to an improvement in SPMS symptoms, and could perhaps even halt the progression of disability for individuals with the disease. Simvastatin could therefore be a promising treatment option for SPMS in the future.
“We are incredibly proud to be co-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, commented Susan Kohlhaas, Director of Research at the MS Society.
“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,” Kohlhaas concluded.
More on multiple sclerosis:
- Ibudilast decreases progression of brain atrophy in progressive multiple sclerosis
- Myelocortical multiple sclerosis: has a novel subtype been identified?
- Ask the Experts: Emerging therapies in multiple sclerosis (Part I: mechanisms, therapies and challenges)
- Ask the Experts: Emerging therapies in multiple sclerosis (Part II: stem cells and future research)
Source: MS Society. Landmark multiple sclerosis (MS) trial begins in UK, offering thousands new hope. Press release: www.mssociety.org.uk/