ChariotMS is gaining traction, however not yet quite to the degree we would have liked. As you may remember, our trial milestones had to be revised, and our immediate target was to enrol 60 people with advanced MS (pwAMS) by the end of June, and we called this our “60:6 challenge”. At the time we took the decisions, it looked like a realistic plan. However, setting up trial sites for ChariotMS, and then getting them to actually screen and enrol pwAMS, remains a slower coach (or dare I say chariot) process than anticipated.
And whilst there are some local reasons for this, COVID-19 is the leading cause underpinning virtually all of the delays. Staff shortages due to positive SARS-CoV2 tests and COVID-19 diseases? Check! MRI capacity massively restricted due to COVID-19 backlogs? Check! R&D offices scrambling for staff, struggling with internal regrouping and shifting focus away from COVID-19 studies? Check! And so it goes on…
The somewhat reassuring, yet unhelpful, truth is we’re not alone in this – it’s a Global problem. A few days ago I attended the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology in Seattle, the first of its kind F2F in the so-called “post-pandemic” era, where an entire presidential plenary session was dedicated to the fall out of C19 on neuroscience research. Now, one of the tangible changes to the better was there were panels consisting entirely of female clinicians & scientists without gender or other issues of inclusivity being the focus of the discussion (mind you people do take note when there’s no man on the platform at all!).
Following through their presentations, the story being told rang strikingly familiar – here are some snaps I took of Prof Cudkowicz’ presentation:AAN_COVID-19_panel
Don’t get me wrong, I’m truly impressed by the dedication of the ChariotMS PIs and their teams, some going to ridiculous lengths doing things they wouldn’t normally have to do getting a clinical trial up and running. But in the current situation, that’s what it takes and I’m grateful to them.
One element we can all help with is making ChariotMS as accessible as possible to pwAMS putting themselves forward for trial eligibility. This is why I’m posting an up to date list of current trial sites across the country below, including sites that are about to be activated. If you or somebody you know has MS and uses a wheelchair most of the time, they may be eligible to participate. Get in touch with your GP or neurologist for a referral to your nearest trial site; in some places you may even have a choice between several sites. For example, there is a cluster including Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Nottingham, and since we’re not talking football here, everybody is on their best behaviour whichever team you support (I trust you noted I put names in alphabetic order to avoid any suspicions).
We’re blessed by the generous support of ChariotMS through its funders, i.e. the NHIR-EME, MS Societies UK & US, Barts Charity and Merck Serono Ltd UK. All recognize the urgent need for this trial and to achieve its milestones, so please get in touch with your nearest site through your GP/consultant/MS teams. Here they are:Sites-1
If you’d like to ask any questions, please pop them in the comments below.
We can also connect at various upcoming events, one of which is an Instagram chat TODAY from 1:30 pm. Here’s the link: https://www.instagram.com/mssocietyuk/
I will also do a ZOOM seminar supported by the MS Society on 19 April and speak at an event hosted by the MS Trust on 27 April, i.e. during MS Awareness week (#LetsTalkMS) – I’ll circulate further details here and via Twitter.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are those of the author and nobody else. I am the chief investigator of ChariotMS.
ChariotMS is funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) [Efficacy and Mechanism Evaluation programme (17/145/09)]. The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care. ChariotMS is further generously supported by the MS Society UK, the US National MS Society, Merck Healthcare and Barts Charity.