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Grant Funding Crowdsourced Multiple Sclerosis Drug Trial

White pills in a prescription bottle (Photos8.com)

(Photos8.com)

8 September 2014. A grant from a National Institutes of Health agency is funding a crowdsourced clinical trial of a generic blood pressure drug to help treat multiple sclerosis. The $1.4 million grant from National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) is supporting an intermediate stage clinical study by Transparency Life Sciences LLC, a drug development company in New York using open-innovation techniques.

The grant, issued under the Small Business Innovation Research program tests the blood pressure drug lisinopril as a supplementary treatment for multiple sclerosis. Lisinopril is one of a class of angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors that reduce chemicals constricting blood vessels, enabling the heart to pump more efficiently. The drug is now available in generic form to treat hypertension, or high blood pressure.

Multiple sclerosis is a disorder where the immune system is tricked into attacking the protective myelin sheath that covers nerve cells. Damage to the myelin interferes with signals between the brain and the rest of the body, causing a wide variety and severity of of symptoms, but can lead to disability. There is no cure for multiple sclerosis and current treatments are designed to help recover from attacks and manage symptoms.

Transparency Life Sciences licensed rights to research by one of its founders, Lawrence Steinman of Stanford University, on the potential for lisinopril to improve the efficacy of multiple sclerosis drugs. Because lisinopril is widely used as a blood pressure treatment, it’s safety profile is well established. The drug’s low cost makes it attractive to NCATS, which is charged with speeding basic biomedical research to the clinic, including the search for new uses for current drugs.

Transparency Life Sciences conducts clinical trials through crowdsourcing techniques that design the studies with specific questions pertaining to the diseases being addressed and the treatments proposed. The crowdsourced responses are collected and synthesized into a protocol for the study. A protocol building exercise for this study is already underway. The company also crowdsources ideas for new applications for current drugs.

The trials also make maximum use of telemedicine to conduct the trial, thus enlarging the potential pool of participants while holding down costs. For this trial, Transparency Life Sciences hired the services of AMC Health, a company providing telemedicine services, including clinical trial monitoring.

The trial will be conducted by Mount Sinai Hospital medical school, led by neurology professor Fred Lublin.

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