In a groundbreaking interview with Dr. Mitzi Joi Williams, one of the clinical leads and heads of the steering committee for, CHIMES (the first-ever multiple sclerosis (MS) clinical trial developed by Genentech exclusively focused on the Black and Hispanic community in the United States) we delve into the significance of the trial, the existing gaps in MS research, and the innovative strategies employed to make clinical trials more inclusive.
Understanding the Significance
Recent data has debunked historical misconceptions about MS not affecting Black individuals. Over the past decade, research has shown that the incidence of MS is highest among Black people in the U.S., with some studies suggesting up to a 47% higher risk in Black women.
The trial seeks to address the lack of research in this area, aiming to unravel the baseline characteristics and factors contributing to the disproportionate impact of MS on Black and Hispanic populations.
“This is a really important trial because, over the past decade or so, we’ve been learning more about MS in the Black community,” Dr, Williams shares.
Addressing Existing Gaps in Research
According to studies, Black and brown communities with MS have worse outcomes, such as faster disability progression, more brain damage on MRI, and earlier walking difficulties.
Clinical trials, with their controlled settings and equal access to interventions, provide the best platform to understand disease courses and ensure equitable access to cutting-edge treatments.
“Clinical trials really give us the best information because everybody has the same access to care, everybody has the same types of treatments,” Dr. Williams adds.
Overcoming Barriers to Inclusion
Although the Black and Hispanic / Latinx make up 20% of the MS population, they are vastly underrepresented in clinical research.
Unfortunately, for the Black community, social determinants of health such as mistrust, costs, transportation, and strict inclusion criteria often hinder participation in clinical trials making data on how MS impacts these communities inaccurate.
These same social determinants of health are the very reason the CHIMES trial has been successful. In fact, the trial enrolled