Barts Health launches first clinical trial to help MS patients without lower limb function

Barts Health has started recruiting for the first multiple sclerosis (MS) clinical trial to focus only on people in a wheelchair.

The trial, called ChariotMS, is being run from The Royal London Hospital, and will test whether cladribine tablets, already licensed for certain forms of MS, can slow the rate of upper limb disability progression in people with advanced forms of the condition.

The trial aims to recruit 200 people with MS across 20 UK centres who can walk only a short distance with two crutches, or are unable to walk at all but retain some upper limb function.

Until now, clinical trials for MS have not included people who are reliant on a wheelchair, and in turn, maintaining their upper limb function.

Professor Klaus Schmierer, a consultant neurologist at The Royal London Hospital  and the clinical and research lead for BartsMS, is leading on the trial.

Klaus,  also a professor of neurology at the Blizzard Institute at Queen Mary University of London, said: “Finding ways to maintain people’s upper limb function is essential to their quality of life, but until now walking ability has been the only official measurement of whether or not an MS treatment is effective.”

“This has excluded people who depend on a wheelchair from taking part in trials and, as a result, from accessing effective treatment that will help maintain their hand and arm function.”

The trial is being funded by Barts Charity and the Efficacy and Evaluation Mechanism Programme, a partnership between the Medical Research Council and National Institute for Health Research.