A new trial focusing solely on multiple sclerosis patients who can’t walk is set to begin recruiting participants.

The ChariotMS, which will be funded by government, charity and commercial backers, will enrol MS patients who are reliant on a wheelchair.

The trial funders include the Efficacy and Mechanism Evaluation Programme, which is a partnership between the Medical Research Council and National Institute for Health Research, as well as the MS Society, the National MS Society USA, Barts Charity, and Merck Serono.

It will study the efficacy of Mavenclad (cladribine) tablets – which are already licensed for highly active relapsing MS – in advanced MS patients who can’t walk. It will seek to determine whether this treatment can slow the rate of upper limb disability progression in people with advanced MS.

“More than 130,000 people live with MS in the UK, and those with more advanced forms can experience difficulty with walking, relying on mobility aids like walking sticks and wheelchairs to help. But as MS progresses, many go on to experience problems with their hand and arm function too – and treatment options start to disappear,” said Emma Gray, assistant director of research at the MS Society

“Preserving hand and arm function would unquestionably improve the quality of life of people with MS, helping them to live more independent lives. That’s why we’re so thrilled to help make this important trial a reality,” she added.

According to the MS Society, clinical trials for MS to date have not included patients who can’t walk, and drugs have only been licensed if they improve walking ability.

This means that there are currently no disease modifying therapies (DMTs) available for people with MS who need significant help walking, which constitutes 35-40% of all people with MS.