A Tayside man said he is hoping for a “breakthrough” after becoming one of the first people to take part in a ground-breaking new MND trial.
Currently there is no cure for motor neurone disease, a progressive condition causing the muscles to waste away, and half of those affected will die within two years of diagnosis.
However, a new MND-SMART trial began on Wednesday at the clinical research centre in Ninewells Hospital, and 67-year-old Dave Smith from Scone was one of the first through the door.
Dundee is one of just two cities in the UK that will host the trial, along with Edinburgh.
Dave said: “I understand this is not a quick fix but it is hope for me and many others in the years to come.
“I jumped at the chance to be on this trial because there is no cure for MND.
“It is making me optimistic for the future as I think it will be a breakthrough and give me a better quality of life.”
Dave first noticed there was a problem with his left hand back in 2014, and while he was working as a painter and decorator he kept falling off his ladder, one time even breaking his shoulder and ribs.
He was then given the devastating diagnosis in 2017 and since then MND has mainly affected his throat and tongue muscles, as well as his hands and legs, meaning it is difficult for him to walk or talk.
The father-of-two continued: “It was a shock when I was diagnosed, it was the kind of thing you didn’t want to here.
“With these trials there may eventually be a cure, they are hoping it could slow down or maybe even reverse MND.
“I hope this could be the start of a new revolution.”
The trial will see patients either given memantine, a drug which targets brain chemicals and is currently used to treat Alzheimer’s, or trazodone, an anti-depressant used to balance out chemicals in the brain, or a placebo.
It is hoped the two drugs will help to slow down the decline in MND patients.
Dr Ian Morrison, a consultant neurologist and the lead for MND in Tayside, said: “MND is a devastating diagnosis for patients and there is a limited number of treatments available, so this new trial could cause significant improvements.
“It is the most significant and exciting development in the past 25 years.
“MND patients lose their muscle function and become weaker, but if we could slow that down we could keep them independent for longer.
“We recognise patients want treatment as quickly as possible and don’t want to waste their time on treatments that don’t work.
“What is interesting is we have had no problem in recruiting patients to this study, which is unusual, but they know this is the best chance to help themselves and people in the future.
Dr Morrison is anticipating the majority of MND patients in Tayside will take part in the trial.