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12 December 2022

Treatment for Motor Neurone Disease shows promise

A trial investigating a new treatment for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) has shared promising results.


Although the cause of ALS (also known as motor neuron disease) is not fully understood, it is known that inflammatory mechanisms influence motor neuron damage in the brain and spinal cord.

The Modifying Immune Response & Outcomes in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (MIROCALS) research trial aims to find a new treatment for ALS and stop the damage caused by the condition by testing interleukin-2 (IL-2), a molecule that helps to regulate the immune system. The trial used an innovative method, grouping patients by the level of a marker of disease severity measured in the spinal fluid.

The main findings from the MIROCALS trial showed that about 80% of people with ALS who were treated with IL-2 had improved chances of survival, with a decrease in the risk of death of over 40%.

People with ALS were recruited to the trial shortly after diagnosis, to test the treatment at a relatively early stage in the disease progression. Low dose IL-2 increases the number of certain immune cells, known as Regulatory T-cells (‘Tregs’) in the blood, which contribute to the control of this inflammatory response.

This is an important advance because it offers the opportunity of an additional therapy that appears to have a bigger effect than existing treatments when given to the right group of ALS patients.

Professor Ammar Al-Chalabi, Professor of Neurology and Complex Disease Genetics at The Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience and Director of King’s MND Care and Research Centre

Professor Timothy Tree, Professor of Immune Regulation and Immunotherapy in the Faculty of Life Sciences & Medicine added: “These absolutely remarkable results represent a real breakthrough in ALS research, and could lead to big changes in treatment options for patients living with this devastating disease. The findings also provide valuable insights on how the power of the immune system can be harnessed to tackle MND, helping shed light on other potential treatment strategies.”

The latest results of the MIROCALS research trial was shared at the 33rd International Symposium on ALS/MND on Tuesday 6 December 2022.

In this story

Timothy Tree 1

Professor of Immune Regulation and Immunotherapy


Professor of Neurology and Complex Disease Genetics