DODDIE Weir’s charity is partially funding an innovative clinical trial which will investigate multiple treatments for MND at the same time.

The MAGNET trial has been launched by an independent consortium of leading MND experts, patient organisations and fundraisers, all with the same goal: to find effective treatments for MND.

It is designed to be adaptive, so new drugs can be added once the trial has started, and drugs can be taken away if they are found not to be effective.

In addition, participants are more likely to receive a trial drug than a placebo (dummy drug), and, for those who are receiving placebo, the time will be kept as short as possible.

What’s more, the trial uses an innovative computer model that considers several clinical variables such as disease duration and lung function, to determine whether a person with MND is eligible to take part.

The model, that was endorsed by the European Medicines Agency in 2020, can increase the number of eligible participants up to five-fold. All these aspects of trial design bring the TRICALS consortium a step closer to their goal of every person with MND being able to take part in a clinical trial.

At present, the trial is testing one drug, lithium carbonate, but others are to be added in the future. The drug will be tested in people with MND who have a particular mutation in the UNC13A gene.

Doddie Weir

Several studies have shown these individuals may have a better response to lithium carbonate than individuals without the genetic variant. It is hoped that by targeting a specific subtype of disease, any potential effect of the drug will be more apparent than if targeting the population as a whole.

Lithium carbonate is already used for treating several mood disorders. A benefit of trialling a drug that is already being used to treat other diseases is that if it’s found to be effective in MND, it will take less time to approve for MND compared to a completely new drug.

My Name’5 Doddie Foundation has supported the set-up of the MAGNET trial in the UK.

Professor Ammar Al-Chalabi, TRICALS executive board member and Professor of Neurology and Complex Disease Genetics at King’s College London, said, “The MAGNET trial will be shortly starting in the UK, something that is only possible because of the support of the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation and its donors. We are very grateful to be able to run this international study at several sites across the country.”

In total, sites from 7 countries will be recruiting to the MAGNET trial: 6 in Europe and 1 in Australia. The intention is to recruit 171 patients in the first treatment arm.

My Name’5 Doddie Foundation is proud to join a collaboration that will unite expertise and resources from across the world, to progress the MND research landscape.

Sean McGrath, Medical Strategy Lead at My Name’5 Doddie Foundation, said, “We recognise that MND research should not be restricted to a specific country and MAGNET is a good example of our desire to collaborate with all who share our vision, no matter their geographical location. This will ensure the greatest chances of success in the quickest time possible.”