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Octopus written in white against a purple background, with orange octopus logo
Lead researcher:
Professor Jeremy Chataway & Professor Mahesh Parmar
Based at:
University College London
MS Society funding:
£12.9 million

We’re proud to fund the first ever multi-arm, multi-stage trial for progressive MS.

Octopus is a revolutionary trial that will transform the way we test treatments for progressive MS. A smarter way of testing potential treatments, it could deliver life-changing new treatments up to three times faster.

The trial team are currently finalising which treatments Octopus will test first. And later this year, they hope to start recruiting people with progressive MS to take part.

Register your interest in taking part in Octopus 

In the meantime, there are other ways to get involved with MS research.

Read more about some of the trials you can take part in

How does Octopus work?

Octopus uses what’s called a multi-arm, multi-stage (MAMS) design – the first time this has even been done in MS.

MAMS trials make it possible to test new treatments up to three times faster by:

  • Testing multiple drugs at once – and comparing them with a single control group.
  • Using MRI to get an idea of whether a drug looks like it has potential, many months before we’d be able to see an effect of the drug on disability progression. Promising-looking drugs stay in the trial, with hundreds more people joining the existing participants. So what would normally be two consecutive trials are delivered in one.
  • Adding the flexibility to drop drugs that don’t look promising, and slot in new drugs as they’re discovered.  

Merging separate trials may sound obvious. But launching a MAMS trial for MS needs so many things to line up perfectly, from hospitals around the country equipped to be trial sites, to the incredibly complicated statistics that underpin the design.