TUDCA-ALS has started recruiting in the UK

TUDCA-ALS has started recruiting in the UK

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TUDCA-ALS is a European Consortium (funded by the European Commission under the Horizon 2020 grant) involving top researchers from seven countries across Europe (see Figure 1). The Consortium aims to find a new treatment to slow down the progression of MND/ALS by conducting a clinical trial to investigate the safety and efficacy (effectiveness) of Tauroursodeoxycholic acid (also known as TUDCA).

Figure 1: The TUDCA-ALS Consortium Partners. 1) Humanitas Mirasole Spa (ICH), 2) Universitaet Ulm (UULM), 3) The University of Sheffield (USFD), 4) Centre Hospitalier Regional Universitaire de Tours (CHUT), 5) Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KUL), 6) Universitaire Medisch Centrum Utrecht (UMCU), 7) Trinity College Dublin (TSD), 8) Bruschettini s.r.l. (BRU), 9) Istituto Superiore di Sanita (ISS), 10) Motor Neurone Disease Association (MNDA)

TUDCA is a molecule that might help to protect motor neurons by camouflaging stress chemicals that trigger a cascade resulting in neurodegeneration (damage and death of the motor neurons).

With this clinical trial, TUDCA-ALS will compare participants who have been randomly assigned to either take TUDCA or placebo (a drug that looks, tastes and smells the same as the drug being tested, but does not contain any active ingredient) over a period of 18 months. All participants enrolled in the study will have a 50% chance of receiving TUDCA or placebo (known as a clinical trial with a ratio of 1:1). The clinical trial will be double-blinded, which means that neither the participants taking part in the study, nor the staff that are running the study will know who will be taking TUDCA or who will be taking the placebo. All participants will also receive the drug riluzole alongside the study treatment.

The main goal is to demonstrate that TUDCA is safe and effective, and to confirm the findings from a previous clinical trial that suggested that TUDCA slows the progression of neurodegeneration in patients with ALS.

Biological samples (blood and cerebral spinal fluid) will also be taken during the TUDCA-ALS Clinical Trial, to enable their secondary goal – looking at a number of biomarkers (characteristics of biological change over time) that are associated with disease progression.

TUDCA-ALS will also look at other biological variants to determine whether there are some differences that allow patients to respond better (or indeed worse) to the treatment. This could be used to move away from a ‘one size fits all’ type of therapy to ‘personalised medicine’.

The Consortium are currently working on the arrangements and approvals that may allow study participants the opportunity to continue onto an open label phase of the study at the end of the clinical trial, where they will be given TUDCA regardless of whether they were in the TUDCA or placebo arm of the clinical trial.

The TUDCA-ALS Consortium started its project in January 2018, and have been working hard performing all of the preparatory activities, obtaining all of the necessary approvals and training all the involved staff, so that recruitment into the TUDCA-ALS Clinical Trial could begin.

The first participant was recruited into the TUDCA-ALS clinical trial by the lead partner, Humanitas, at the start of the year and we are very pleased to announce that the UK is now ready to start recruiting participants into the TUDCA-ALS trial. There are seven sites in the UK and Ireland that will be recruiting participants into the TUDCA-ALS clinical trial: Dublin, Liverpool, Preston, Plymouth, Salford, Sheffield and Stoke (see Figure 2).

TUDCA sites
Figure 2: Sites recruiting into TUDCA-ALS in the UK

If you are interested in finding out more about TUDCA-ALS please visit TUDCA-ALS, or our Information Sheet DB: TUDCA-ALS clinical trial.

Horizon 2020

This project has received funding from the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation rare diseases and orphan drug programme under grant agreement No 755094. This output reflects the views only of the author(s), and the European Union cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.



5 thoughts on “TUDCA-ALS has started recruiting in the UK

  1. Good news, but I am unsure about the criteria regarding when the measure of the first symptoms of onset is taken, especially when it can take up to 18 months to get a diagnosis!

    1. Hi Valerie,

      Unfortunately, the criteria is from the first sign of symptoms, not diagnosis. We’d recommend you consult your neurologist to see if you would fit this criteria.

      Kind regards,

      Research Development Team

  2. Hi, I have not been formally diagnosed but have tested positive for the VCP mutation and we have familial ALS (mother, aunt, grandmother, great-grandmother). I live close to ULM in Germany but can’t find contact details for the relevant people. Are they also recruiting? If possible can you provide me with their contact details?

    1. Hi Jacques,

      There are several criteria that people with ALS must meet to participate in this trial (inclusion criteria) and some criteria that may exclude people from participating (exclusion criteria). One inclusion criteria is being recently diagnosed with ALS (with a disease duration of 18 months or less, starting from the time of first symptoms). To find out more, please see our information sheet on TUDCA-ALS here –

      If you think that you are eligible to take part, please talk this through with your local neurologist. If they haven’t heard of this research study, please show them a copy of this information sheet. If they agree that you might be eligible to take part, they will be able to refer you to one of the participating centres. The centres in this clinical trial will be initially recruiting from their local area.

      Best wishes,

      Research Development Team

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