Yesterday, we announced on our website the disappointing news that the UK-based lithium clinical trial showed that lithium carbonate is ineffective at treating MND.
Commenting on the lithium clinical trial, Dr Brian Dickie, our Director of Research Development said:
“As many people will know, when lithium was first proposed as having benefit in MND, a couple of small, short-term trials were performed to establish whether the drug had a large and rapid effect on physical changes in disease progression. This trial, by contrast, was developed to ask whether the drug had a more subtle benefit over a longer time course, as is the case with riluzole, using survival times as the primary measure. The only way to answer this question was by performing larger, lengthier and more comprehensive studies.
“While the result is deeply disappointing, we now have a clear answer.
“Lithium can be described as a messy drug. It can act in multiple ways in the body, producing potentially beneficial effects as well as possible unwanted side effects. An overall beneficial effect, even modest, would have refocused scientific interest in the drug to try and separate ‘the good from the bad’ with the longer-term goal of developing more effective compounds. This is a strategy that is presently being pursued with regard to riluzole, in a project co-funded by the ALS Association, the University of Reading and ourselves.
“This trial was the first of its type in the UK, devised and run by clinicians without the need for drug company funding. A number of MND clinics that previously had little or no experience in clinical drug trials for MND have developed vital expertise and confidence in delivering trials to the highest standards. This can only help make the UK a more attractive place in the future for drug companies looking to push potential treatments from lab to clinic.”
Two hundred and fourteen people with MND took part in this trial, each giving up their time to help find us the answers. We’d like to thank those that have taken part in this trial.
One person who took part in the UK lithium clinical trial was Colin Knight. We spoke to him a few years ago about his views on taking part. Please be aware that in the film clip, Colin speaks frankly about his diagnosis.