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Time from diagnosis to death causing problems with clinical trials

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  • nunhead_man
    Hi again

    And to add to that I'm told on facebook that I "make a very, very good point about trials and ALS/MND progress rate. "

    But to make matter even more difficult are two more additional factors.

    1) Time taken to achieve a diagnosis with a rapidly progressing disease is truly a major obstacle to find early stage volunteers

    2) But, conversely, so to is slow progress variants like PLS. Slow progression together with "plateauing" often seen, make almost impossible to detect the efficacy any innovative intervention might have. ( and hence the huge importance of the recently discovered P75 urine test. An easy test that responds promptly to changes/ progress or . . . lack of progress.)

    If someone proposes to launch a large scale, multi centre study, (phase 2 or phase3 trials) that for each volunteer participant lasts say, a year or more - but often also may require around a year follow up to validate any findings.

    To do all that meaningfully, researchers would need in excess of 300 people with MND to survive the full term of the study.

    That from an MND population - across UK of 3,000 to 5,000 per year - and median survival 14 months to 24 months is a tough ask.

    Researchers are however exploring potential 'short cuts' like precise matching age, sex, disease variant [? gene mutation], progression rates and 1:1 placebo control + P75 and other traditional progression measures.

    AI (Artificial Intelligence) is going to help, but even then, in all practical terms, it means almost ever single person with an MND diagnosis needs to volunteer!!



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  • nunhead_man
    Hi Ellie and Doug

    Thank you both - Ellie you have reminded me of my favourite irony joke, which is strangely current....

    "isn't it just a little ironic to see a group of pro-lifers throwing eggs at an abortion clinic?"

    I have to say I was a bit fed up when I wrote the original post because I felt that if I was right about my conclusion, the research community were blaming us for not being able to live longer.

    I had a session with my acupuncture practitioner this afternoon so I mentioned this to her and she quite understood my anger and in talking about it. I wondered whether the fix for this was either;

    a) concentrating on a diagnostic tool so that people get picked up earlier and therefore live long enough to take part in the trials

    b) find some way of testing drugs more quickly

    Clear that the ALS Therapy Development Institute understand this



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  • Ellie
    Oh the irony of it, eh Andy.....

    Random thoughts:

    I think that is why identifying so called subsets is important, but as to how to identify subsets, well, that seems to be beyond anyone for now!!!

    I am obviously in some sort of subset but have no apparent or obvious markers. If long survivors could be identified early on, they'd be good to throw into the mix of participants in clinical trials, in the hope some will live long enough to actually finish a trial. I am not sure how relevant trial results are @12, 24, 48 weeks are in the grand scheme of things???

    The Japanese trial result success of Edaravone is not being replicated in the general ALS population in the US. It's not Breaking News that Edaravone is thought to work only in a subset of people with ALS, which is why Europe is sceptical on its efficacy.

    Love Ellie.

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  • Doug Carpenter
    Thanks Andy.

    Two useful little videos.

    This problem of our very heterogeneous patient population and its relation to clinical trials was covered very well in the ALS Webinar on Tuesday that Ellie kindly flagged up. Still available I believe.

    Work is underway to find ways of stratifying the population to aid participant selection for trials.

    Another small step…..


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  • Time from diagnosis to death causing problems with clinical trials

    Good afternoon all

    Roger Leek kindly posted this in a Facebook group.

    And trying to find original let me to this, which is slightly different, more recent and more interesting;

    My takeaway from it is that some of us do not live long enough to be helpful to clinical trials, which therefore makes it difficult to work out what is causing it, which in turn means there are not enough of us living longer to help with clinical trials and so on :-(

    Best to all