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News article

Octopus Clinical Trial

4 April 2023

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

The trial is funded by the MS Society and is being led by researchers at University College London. Its goal is to find treatments that slow or stop disability worsening, and its unique design means potential treatments can be tested more quickly and efficiently.

Octopus uses what’s called a multi-arm, multi-stage (MAMS) design – the first time this has ever been done in MS. MAMS trials make it possible to test new treatments much 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 being able to see an effect of the drug on disability progression.

  • Adding the flexibility to drop drugs that don’t look promising and slot in new drugs as they’re discovered.

The research team has selected two existing drugs to test first: metformin and alpha lipoic acid. Evidence from the lab suggests both drugs may have potential to help protect nerves and metformin has also shown potential for boosting myelin repair. Both drugs are currently used in other conditions. Metformin is approved for diabetes in the UK and alpha lipoic acid is approved in Germany for neuropathy.

The Octopus trial is hoping to recruit at least 1,200 people with progressive MS to take part over the next six years. University College London Hospital is currently the only site open, but there will eventually be up to 30 sites around the UK, including in: Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Yorkshire, West Midlands, and the South of England.

If you’re interested in taking part in this clinical trial you can register your interest through the UK MS Register.

Read more about Octopus >

Join the UK MS Register >

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