Anisha Doshi is a researcher and trainee neurologist working on the new simvastatin trial. We caught up with her to find out how the trial is progressing.
MS STAT2 is a phase three clinical trial testing whether a high dose of a drug called simvastatin can slow down disability progression in secondary progressive MS.
Simvastatin is already used by thousands of people in the UK to lower cholesterol. We think it may be able to protect nerves from damage caused by MS and have already seen some positive effects in an earlier, smaller trial.
Hitting our first milestone
The trial is aiming to recruit over 1000 people with secondary progressive MS, and last month we were excited to enrol our 500th participant in the trial (which we obviously celebrated with cake!). So far, we haven’t seen any major side effects of the drug which is great.
We already have 28 sites open all across the UK, and another two due to open soon. So we’re well on our way to achieving our future milestones.
Meeting people with MS
I work at the University College London Hospitals, which is the lead site for the trial. That means the chief investigator of the whole trial – Professor Jeremy Chataway - is based here, along with a large team of doctors, nurses and administrative staff.
My role is to work with participants who are going to take part in the trial. I really enjoy doing assessments of cognition (measuring things like memory and reason) because we know these are aspects of MS that have a really big impact on day-to-day life.
I am also involved in some smaller research projects as part of the trial. We’re looking for markers that could tell us whether someone’s MS is progressing, such as levels of protein in the blood or damage to the optic nerve.
Sharing knowledge is key
MS STAT2 is such a big trial that one of the trickiest challenges is making sure all the different sites are doing the same thing, which is vital to getting reliable results. We regularly visit the other sites (often requiring some very early morning trains) so that we can all benefit from each other’s experience.
Being able to share knowledge all over the UK is really valuable and means we can stop any potential problems in their tracks.
We want to keep everyone taking part in MS STAT2 up-to-date on our progress, so we use social media to post updates and photos. We’ve just got a twitter account @MSStat2 and Jeremy even recently posted his first vlog where he talks about the trial…and his cricket predictions!
Recruitment is open until the end of the year, so if you are interested in taking part, please visit the STAT 2 trial website to find out more.