The MS Society UK are co-funding the phase 3 trial to test if simvastatin could become a treatment for secondary progressive MS.
This phase 3 trial will involve over 1000 people with secondary progressive MS. It began in March 2017 and will take six years to complete.
If successful, simvastatin could be among the first treatments licensed for secondary progressive MS.
The phase 3 trial will cost almost £6 million. The MS Society UK are funding this research in collaboration with the National Institute for Health Research, the National MS Society (US), the NHS and UK universities.
Phase 2 trial results were published in 2014. Researchers found those taking high doses of simvastatin had better disability scores compared with those taking placebo.
Disability was assessed using the Expanded Disability Status Scale. This measures changes in MS symptoms including problems with walking, thinking and swallowing.
Simvastatin also reduced the rate of brain atrophy (shrinkage) over two years. This suggests that the treatment could protect nerves from damage in MS.
Dr Jeremy Chataway from the UCL Institute of Neurology is leading the research: “This drug holds incredible promise for the thousands of people living with secondary progressive MS in the UK, and around the world, who currently have few options for treatments that have an effect on disability.
“This study will establish definitively whether simvastatin is able to slow the rate of disability progression over a three year period, and we are very hopeful it will.”
MS Society' UK's Chief Executive Michelle Mitchell says: “We’re incredibly proud to be co-funding the simvastatin trial. This is an absolutely momentous step forward in our quest to find an effective treatment for progressive MS.
“More than 100,000 people in the UK are living with MS and this research will offer a huge amount of hope to the majority of them.”