PrevANZ Vitamin D Prevention Trial Update – September 2020

The Trish MS Research Foundation was proud to join forces with the MS Society Western Australia, to provide vital funding to kick-start a study into Vitamin D for the prevention of MS.

The much-awaited PrevANZ vitamin D ‘gold-standard’ clinical trial, coordinated by MS Research Australia has been conducted by a team of experienced MS clinical triallists throughout Australia and New Zealand.

There is much circumstantial evidence to suggest that the lack of vitamin D is an important risk factor in the development of MS. However, there had been no robust clinical trials looking at whether taking vitamin D supplements influences the onset of MS. To address this important question, MS Research Australia set up the PrevANZ clinical trial in 2013, which was the world-first clinical trial to directly test whether vitamin D supplementation can prevent or delay MS in those at risk of developing the disease.

In this trial, people with a first episode of neurological symptoms that may be a precursor to MS (known as clinically isolated syndrome or CIS) were randomly divided into different treatment groups.

Some were given a mock medication and others were given one of three different doses of vitamin D. The trial then tested whether vitamin D supplements can delay or prevent a second episode, or attack, which would lead to a diagnosis of MS.

The trial has been running since 2013, and the last participant was recruited at the end of 2019 which brought the total number of enrolled people to 202. Each individual on the trial is given their treatment and followed for 12 months or until they display signs of a second MS attack. The last 10 participants who were enrolled in 2019 are finishing their treatment and observation period, with the last person expected to complete the trial at the end of December 2020.

Once the last person finishes the trial the statistical analysis will begin. Due to the nature of the trial the scientists aren’t allowed to know which participant is getting which treatment until the end of the trial. This is considered to be the best way to carry out a clinical trial as it prevents any bias, but unfortunately it means that we can’t have a sneak peek at the results until the end. It has been a long trial but we are awaiting the final results with great anticipation, as this is such an important question in the MS community.