We need to think big to stop MS

Thu 29 April 2021

Professor Sue Pavitt is an expert in clinical trial design. She’s been working on our new mega-trial Octopus since the very beginning - and has been instrumental in making it a reality.

We asked her why she believes Octopus is such a game-changer.

Hi Sue, firstly, tell us how you got involved in MS research?

The person who really started my involvement with the MS Society’s research was Professor Jeremy Chataway, who’s now co-leading Octopus. Along with the MS Society, he had a vision to speed up the search for new treatments for progressive MS. And he wanted someone with experience revolutionising clinical trials to help. That’s where I came in and I’ve never looked back!

Of all of the projects I’ve been part of during my career, leading the work to rethink the design of trials for progressive MS is something very special to be part of. I am excited to see more than a decade of hard work of so many lead to Octopus with Jeremy and his co-lead, Professor Max Parmar. It is an honour to continue to work with such talented scientists.

Why is Octopus so important?

We need to think big to stop MS. That means we’ve got to deliver big. Creating a mega-trial with multiple stages that will cost £13 million is a bold investment. But I believe it means we can find effective treatments for progressive MS much faster.

People with progressive MS still can’t stop their disability from progressing. They can’t wait any longer. Their hope is in our hands. It’s a big responsibility, but the rewards will be absolutely immense.

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I feel it’s the time for breakthroughs for conditions that affect the brain - like MS. We’re starting to see big opportunities unfold to advance knowledge about potential new treatments. MS research has got to a critical point and we need to act now so everyone with MS finally gets the treatments they need.

How does it feel to see Octopus come to life?

It’s inspirational seeing what started as an idea become reality. The MS-SMART trial gave us the confidence we could do something bigger and better, which led us to where we are now. To Octopus.

It’s been a decade coming and it was such a big task. But we had a vision to make a difference and we just chipped away at it. We’ll be able to look back and think, we launched a first-of-its-kind trial during a pandemic!

I believe Octopus will be the envy of the world – efficient, engaging and enterprising. It’s been an incredible journey and a privilege to be a part of. I really can’t wait to see what unfolds but rest assured the world of MS is going to change for the better

Read our information on what MS treatments are available for the different types of MS now