Recent media stories have highlighted a new clinical trial currently underway in Melbourne. The trial, for a drug called SPG302, is being run on behalf of Spinogenix, the US company who make the drug, by Nucleus Network.
SPG302 has been developed to target the synapse in nerve cells. The synapse is the site of contact between two nerve cells, or the nerve cell and muscle, that enable communication via chemical signals and is key for the brain control of muscles for movement. One major aspect of MND is the loss of these synapses.
This drug has been designed to increase the number of synapses in nerve cells. The trial is a Phase 1 trial, which is the first step in testing whether a drug can develop into a viable treatment.
It will initially test how the drug behaves in healthy volunteers to check for any toxic effects and how long it lasts in the body.
Early next year, there will also be a small part of this study which will test the drug in MND patients, but only for a very short period (4 weeks) to make sure the drug behaves in the same way in patients as it does in healthy volunteers and measure any changes in patients that may occur.
It should be noted that although it is exciting to have new drugs being tested, this is at a very early stage and it will be a number of years before this drug might make it into the clinic for patients, if successful.
An overview of the process describing how new treatments for MND move from the research stage through to becoming available to patients is available here.