Octopus trial for progressive MS

What is the Octopus trial?

The aim of this study is to find treatments which can slow down, or even stop, progression of disability in secondary and primary progressive MS.

The Octopus trial is taking a new approach to testing repurposed treatments (ie treatments already in use for other conditions) which have shown potential to protect nerves in laboratory studies.  

Octopus is designed to be a more efficient kind of clinical trial by using the multi-arm, multi-stage (MAMS) approach.  In the first stage of the study, new treatments are quickly evaluated using MRI techniques to assess potential for slowing down progression.  If a treatment shows promise, it moves on to the second stage of the study which runs for several years, involves more participants and monitors disability progression more directly.  Several drugs can be tested at the same time and compared to a single “control” group who take a placebo (dummy treatment).  If a treatment doesn’t show promise in the first stage, it can be dropped and new drugs slotted in.  Combining multiple drugs (or arms) and multiple stages in the one study makes it possible to test potential treatments up to three times faster.  This approach has already been used to testing prostate cancer treatments.

The first two drugs to be tested in Octopus are metformin and lipoic acid (also known as alpha lipoic acid).

How can I take part?

You may be eligible to take part if 
•    You have a diagnosis of primary or secondary progressive MS
•    You are aged between 25 and 70

Further tests and a medical examination will be carried out before confirming that you can take part. 

If you are interested in taking part in the Octopus trial you can register your interest on the UK MS Register.

Participants are now being recruited at the University College London Hospitals Foundation Trust.  There will eventually be up to 30 sites around the UK covering Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England.  

When you register you will be asked where you live.  This is so that the closest trial sites can contact you when they start recruiting.  As trial sites are still being set up, it may be some time before you hear from your nearest study site.

Are there any other treatments for progressive MS?

There are currently just two treatment options for people with progressive MS – Mayzent for people with active secondary progressive MS and Ocrevus for people with early active primary progressive MS.  However, these treatments are only available to those who have had a relapse or have shown activity on an MRI scan. 

Other treatments are currently being tested in clinical trials for both secondary and primary progressive MS and to boost myelin repair and protect nerves.

A wide range of drug treatments and other therapies can help to manage the symptoms of progressive MS; following a balanced diet and staying as active as possible can also help you remain as healthy as possible. 

Find out more

On this page