Queen Square Centre for Neuromuscular Diseases


LiCALS: Therapeutic trial of lithium carbonate in MND/ALS

A double-blind, randomised, placebo controlled trial of lithium carbonate in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Sponsor University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Funder Motor Neurone Disease Association and NIHR
CI Dr Richard Orrell
UK sites London Queen square
Contact details r.orrell@ucl.ac.uk
More information


Recent research suggests that lithium carbonate may slow down the progression of MND. Lithium may protect motor neurons through a range of mechanisms, including improving:

  • transport of proteins along the motor neuron
  • transport of mitochondria
  • activating cell survival factors

In one study, lithium prolonged survival in a mouse model of MND.

Trial information

This was a multi-centre study in the UK. It involved 215 patients with MND, taking lithium or placebo for 18 months.

The trial assessed the safety, efficacy and tolerability of lithium combined with riluzole as a treatment for MND.

Assessments included survival, symptoms, quality of life, and function. Participants were randomised to take lithium or placebo, the level of lithium in the blood was monitored, and the dose of lithium (and placebo) adjusted as needed.