Drug trial for Motor Neurone Disease fails

Manufacturer withdraws drug

 Colm Murray: went on blind drug trials in June 2011.  Photograph:Brenda Fitzsimons

Colm Murray: went on blind drug trials in June 2011. Photograph:Brenda Fitzsimons


A drug trial involving the popular RTÉ broadcaster Colm Murray who has Motor Neurone Disease (MND) has failed.

Stage III trials of the drug Dexpramipexole failed to show any discernible impact for sufferers of the terminal condition and has been withdrawn by its manufacturer, Biogen Idec.

Murray went on blind trials of the drug along with other patients at Beaumont Hospital in June 2011 having been diagnosed earlier that year with MND. In an interview with The Irish Times at the time, Murray said he was “delighted”to take part. “I know little about it from a medical point of view. My understanding of it is that it is a drug that the top medical experts hold high hopes for it.”

Prof Orla Hardiman said the drug showed promise in animal trials, but that did not translate to humans.

She acknowledged the patients and their families were disappointed by the trial, but a lot had been learned and the company remained committed to finding a cure for what is currently an incurable condition.

Prof Hardiman said Mr Murray “was still with us but he has lost the power of speech, which is very unfortunate for him because he was so chatty and knowledgeable”.

It is hoped to set up a centre dedicated to MND as part of the Trinity College Dublin neurology department. Prof Hardiman said too many Irish researchers in MND had to go abroad to pursue their studies.

Punchestown Racecourse is hosting a fundraising race meeting on Saturday week, April 27th, to raise funds for the MND centre.