In 2020, the ALS Association, in partnership with Massachusetts General Hospital, launched an innovative approach to research, the HEALEY ALS Platform Trial. In most clinical trials, a single drug is tested, and participants cannot be enrolled in more than one trial at a time. The HEALEY ALS Platform Trial enables us to test multiple proposed drug treatments at once. This is a model that has been successful in cancer research. It accelerates our search for effective treatments for people living with ALS by allowing investigators to test more drugs, increase patient access to trials, and reduce costs by quickly and efficiently evaluating the effectiveness of multiple therapies. There are now 54 test sites nationwide, three of which are in Texas.
Texas Neurology was one of the first five initial sites for the new model. “This is big. I’ve been doing trials since the early nineties. The average trial takes 8 years. Going through platform methodology shortens it to 2-3 years,” states Dr. Daragh Heitzman, clinical director at Texas Neurology. Dr. Heitzman was recently appointed to the HEALEY ALS Platform Trial Executive Committee, as the first physician investigator to join an elite group of scientists.
“What’s different about this trial is that the placebo group is being shared for all five drugs, such that the number of participants who actually get a drug is dramatically increased. So, it’s a lot quicker to get to an answer, more patients are getting drugs, and less getting a placebo.”
Trial participants will have the option to continue treatment for at least a year, and if the drug shows promise during the six-month trial, the FDA could potentially fast-track its approval, getting a crucial treatment to people living with ALS.
Texas HEALEY ALS Platform Trial Sites
- The ALS Clinic at Texas Neurology in Dallas
- Houston Methodist ALS Clinic
- The ALS Clinic at UT Health San Antonio