Riluzole is already used to treat motor neurone disease (MND). Unfortunately, results from a mid-stage clinical trial called MS-SMART have shown that it is not an effective treatment for MS.
- Current phase of trial:
- Phase 2
How does riluzole work?
Riluzole works by stopping a chemical called glutamate interacting with nerve cells.
How is riluzole taken?
MS-SMART was a phase 2 trial that tested the potential of three different drugs - riluzole, amiloride and fluoxetine - in 440 people with secondary progressive MS.
The top-line results of MS-SMART were announced in October 2018.They showed that none of the drugs are effective at treating MS.
In 2007 we brought together MS researchers and clinicians to help us develop and run trials for progressive MS. Through this Clinical Trials Network (CTN) we funded £500,000 of early research to help us develop the MS-SMART trial.
Through the work of the CTN we also selected a number of drugs that had the potential to be neuroprotective. And riluzole scored particularly highly.
We don't yet know the side effects of riluzole in MS, this will be tested as part of the MS-SMART trial.
How does riluzole comnpare with current therapies?
Right now there are no effective treatments for secondary progressive MS.
When will riluzole be available?
Unfortunately, none of the three drugs that were tested showed the potential to slow disability progression in MS. Although this is very disappointing news, the results tell us a lot about the biological pathways in progressive MS. This will help researchers rule out and prioritise other drugs for future trials.
The trial was extremely well conducted, meaning these results are robust and we now know not to pursue these drugs any further. This means that riluzole will not be taken forward to further clinical trials, and will not become available as a treatment for MS.