Bringing MND Research to Wessex

Picture of Dr Ashwin Pinto

Dr Ashwin Pinto (Principal Investigator for the Southampton trial centre) shares the background on bringing MND-SMART to the Southampton MND Care Centre.

The Southampton MND Care Centre was established over 15 years ago to coordinate care of patients living with MND throughout the Wessex region. During this time, patients wishing to join clinical trials of drug treatments for MND have had to travel to centres in Oxford, Brighton and London. Unfortunately, this has meant that only a small number of patients have been able to participate, as many people are not well enough to travel long distances.

I was delighted to be approached by the MND-SMART clinical trial team led by Professor Siddharthan Chandran and Dr Suvankar Pal in 2019 to join the collaborative network of research centres across the UK in this innovative multi-arm adaptive trial for MND.  MND-SMART is the first interventional study we have offered to MND patients in the Wessex region. It has given our patients the opportunity to participate in research much closer to home. It has also helped to change the conversation we have with people at diagnosis. Whether a person is interested in participating in MND-SMART or not, knowing that researchers are trying to find new treatments for MND and understand what might cause the disease helps to bring hope.

I am very grateful for all the hard work of the Southampton MND research staff; we have a multidisciplinary team including trials assistants, research physiotherapist, research fellows and consultants. The team worked hard with the MND-SMART trial management group from Edinburgh to establish Southampton as a trial centre and we started recruiting in February 2021, at the height of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the last 12 months, we have recruited twenty patients to the study. This is an incredible achievement in the context of the ongoing disruption to clinical activity caused by the pandemic.

I’m delighted to lead the team in Southampton as we work together with teams from across the UK to find new treatments for MND.

This article was published on: Thursday, 21 April, 2022