Motor Neuron Disease Systematic Multi-Arm Adaptive Randomised Trial (MND-SMART): a multi-arm, multi-stage, adaptive, platform, phase III randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of repurposed drugs in motor neuron disease

BMJ Open. 2022 Jul 7;12(7):e064173. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2022-064173.


Introduction: Motor neuron disease (MND) is a rapidly fatal neurodegenerative disease. Despite decades of research and clinical trials there remains no cure and only one globally approved drug, riluzole, which prolongs survival by 2-3 months. Recent improved mechanistic understanding of MND heralds a new translational era with many potential targets being identified that are ripe for clinical trials. Motor Neuron Disease Systematic Multi-Arm Adaptive Randomised Trial (MND-SMART) aims to evaluate the efficacy of drugs efficiently and definitively in a multi-arm, multi-stage, adaptive trial. The first two drugs selected for evaluation in MND-SMART are trazodone and memantine.

Methods and analysis: Initially, up to 531 participants (177/arm) will be randomised 1:1:1 to oral liquid trazodone, memantine and placebo. The coprimary outcome measures are the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Functional Rating Scale Revised (ALSFRS-R) and survival. Comparisons will be conducted in four stages. The decision to continue randomising to arms after each stage will be made by the Trial Steering Committee who receive recommendations from the Independent Data Monitoring Committee. The primary analysis of ALSFRS-R will be conducted when 150 participants/arm, excluding long survivors, have completed 18 months of treatment; if positive the survival effect will be inferentially analysed when 113 deaths have been observed in the placebo group. The trial design ensures that other promising drugs can be added for evaluation in planned trial adaptations. Using this novel trial design reduces time, cost and number of participants required to definitively (phase III) evaluate drugs and reduces exposure of participants to potentially ineffective treatments.

Ethics and dissemination: MND-SMART was approved by the West of Scotland Research Ethics Committee on 2 October 2019. (REC reference: 19/WS/0123) Results of the study will be submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal and a summary provided to participants.

Trial registration numbers: European Clinical Trials Registry (2019-000099-41); NCT04302870.

Keywords: Clinical trials; Motor neurone disease; Neurology; STATISTICS & RESEARCH METHODS.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase III
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis* / drug therapy
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Humans
  • Memantine / therapeutic use
  • Motor Neuron Disease* / drug therapy
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases*
  • Riluzole / therapeutic use
  • Trazodone* / therapeutic use
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Riluzole
  • Memantine
  • Trazodone

Associated data