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MAGNET trial now open to people living with MND in the UK

15 June 2023

  • The MAGNET platform trial, launched by the TRICALS consortium, is now open to recruitment at King’s College London, UK
  • The first sub-study within the trial is called PRELUDE, and will test lithium carbonate in people living with MND who have a particular mutation in the UNC13A gene
  • Lithium carbonate is a repurposed drug, used for treating mood disorders, so the safety profile of the drug is already well known

Last year, the MAGNET platform trial began recruiting people living with MND across Europe, and we’re pleased that the first UK site has now opened. MAGNET (Multi-arm, Adaptive, Group-sequential trial NETwork) is an innovative clinical trial which will investigate multiple treatments for MND at the same time. It is run by TRICALS (Treatment Research Initiative to Cure ALS), an independent consortium of leading MND experts, patient organisations and fundraisers, all with the same goal: to find effective treatments for MND.

A repurposed drug for a specific gene variant

The first sub-study of the MAGNET trial, called PRELUDE, is testing lithium carbonate in people living with MND who have a specific mutation in the UNC13A gene. Several studies have shown these individuals may have a better response to lithium carbonate than individuals without the genetic variant. It is hoped that by targeting a specific subtype of disease, any potential effect of the drug will be more apparent than if targeting the population as a whole.

Lithium carbonate is already used for treating several mood disorders. A benefit of testing a repurposed drug in this way, is that the safety profile is already well understood, and, if it’s found to be effective in MND, it could take less time to approve for MND compared to a completely new drug.

Innovative trial design

MAGNET is a platform trial, meaning it has several advantages over more traditional clinical trials. It is designed to be adaptive, so new drugs can be added once the trial has started, and drugs can be taken away if they are found not to be effective. In addition, participants are more likely to receive a trial drug than a placebo (dummy drug), and, for those who are receiving placebo, the time will be kept as short as possible.

What’s more, the MAGNET trial uses an innovative computer model that considers several clinical variables such as disease duration and lung function, to determine whether a person with MND is eligible to take part. The model, which was endorsed by the European Medicines Agency in 2020, can increase the number of eligible participants up to five-fold.* All these aspects of trial design bring the TRICALS consortium a step closer to their goal of every person living with MND being able to take part in a clinical trial.

*Note, people living with MND are only eligible for the PRELUDE trial if they have a specific mutation in the UNC13A gene. If you have MND and are interested in this trial, please speak to your neurologist for further information.

International collaboration

Funding provided by My Name’5 Doddie Foundation has been supporting the set-up of the MAGNET platform trial in the UK. Jessica Lee, Director of Research at My Name’5 Doddie Foundation, said, “My Name’5 Doddie Foundation is committed to accelerating new treatments for MND. We support a number of innovative clinical trials and trial platforms, and we’re delighted that includes the MAGNET platform trial, which is now recruiting in the UK. We are proud to be part of a collaboration that will unite expertise and resources from across the world, to drive forward the development of new treatments for MND.”

In total, sites from 7 countries will be recruiting to the MAGNET trial: 6 in Europe and 1 in Australia. The intention is to recruit 171 patients in the first treatment arm. 

In addition to My Name’5 Doddie Foundation, MAGNET is receiving support from Motor Neurone Disease Association (UK), Alan Davidson Foundation (UK), Dutch ALS Foundation (Netherlands), FWO with support of ALS Liga (Belgium), Ulla-Carin Lindquist stiftelse för ALS-forskning (Sweden), Thierry Latran Foundation (France), Fundación Luzón (Spain) and FightMND (Australia). 

If you are interested in taking part in this trial, visit the MND Association’s website for more information.

MAGNET trial now open to people living with MND in the UK
MAGNET trial now open to people living with MND in the UK

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