Ocrelizumab (drug name Ocrevus) has already been licensed for relapsing MS and early primary progressive MS. Researchers will now investigate whether it can help people with primary progressive MS retain the use of their hands.
The trial will involve over 1,000 people with primary progressive MS across multiple countries.
In the UK, people with MS who can't use their legs and rely on a wheelchair are currently not eligible for treatment with disease modifying therapies (DMTs). However, there's increasing evidence to suggest continuing with treatment can slow down worsening of hand and arm function.
Previous trials focused on whether a drug can help to preserve a person’s ability to walk, but wheelchair users couldn't take part. This new trial will be the first to recognise the importance of wheelchair users retaining the use of their hands.
Lead researcher Professor Gavin Giovannoni from Queen Mary said:
"Addressing the needs of people with progressive MS, who are typically more advanced in their condition, is one of the major frontiers in MS research."
Our Director of Research, Dr Susan Kohlhaas says:
“It’s wonderful to finally see clinical trials for people with advanced progressive MS. There are over 100,000 people with MS in the UK. Those who rely on a wheelchair haven’t yet been included in clinical trials – and still don’t have anything to stop or slow disability progression.
“As we drive research into more and better treatments, this is the first drug trial to recognise the importance of hand function for independence. We’re excited to see the results.”