Groundbreaking clinical trial for secondary progressive MS

Published date: 17 Jul 2013 at 7:44AM

A new phase 2 clinical trial called MS-SMART will begin this autumn, investigating whether three potential treatments could slow or halt disability progression in people with secondary progressive MS.

MS-SMART is a three-year trial that will test the safety and effectiveness of three different drugs - amiloride, ibudilast and riluzole – against a ‘dummy’ treatment in 440 people with secondary progressive MS.

All three drugs have the potential to protect nerves from damage, which could ultimately stop or slow disability progression.

Saving time and money

Up to 15 trial sites will be identified in cities and towns across Scotland and England.

Testing three drugs at once is much quicker and cheaper than running three individual trials. The drugs are already licensed for other conditions (amiloride is licensed to treat heart disease, ibudilast to treat asthma in Japan and riluzole is licensed for motor neurone disease) so researchers know the safety profile of the treatments, potentially shaving years off the time usually needed.

The recruitment for the trial will start in autumn. If you would like more information about the trial, visit the MS-SMART website.

How was this trial developed?

There are currently no treatments that can slow or stop the accumulation of disability that people with progressive MS experience – we need to change this urgently.

So in 2007, the MS Society set to work in developing and producing clinical trials for progressive MS. We established a Clinical Trials Network, which, funded by the MS Society, completed £500,000 worth of underpinning research that was needed in order to develop the MS-SMART trial.


MS-SMART is a £2.7m trial led by Dr Jeremy Chataway at UCL (University College London) and Professor Siddharthan Chandran at the University of Edinburgh.

The project is sponsored by UCL (University College London) and the independent research is awarded by the Efficacy and Mechanism Evaluation Programme (EME) and funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the MS Society in the UK, with support from MS Societies in the USA and Italy.

The trial is managed by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) on behalf of the MRC-NIHR partnership. Additional support comes from the University of Edinburgh.

Page last updated: 19 Nov 2013
The MS Society has been instrumental in getting this trial designed and funded and so we hope it will lead to the new treatments that are urgently needed to slow or stop progression in people with MS.
Dr Susan Kohlhaas, Head of Biomedical Research at the MS Society
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