A man from Southend is one of the country's first to take part in the biggest ever drug trial for secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS).

Steve Hornett, 56, from Southend will take part in the study, co-funded by the MS Society and a group of universities and the NHS to see if a new drug, Simvastatin could be one of the first to slow or stop disability progression in sufferers of SPMS.

The programme, if successful could help thousands in their battle against the condition.

Steve, who will be treated at the University College London, said: "I’ve had MS for a third of my life, but it never impacted me that much until it became progressive.

"I used to run and cycle and do lots of exercise, but now that’s out of the question.

"I had to buy a wheelchair two years ago, and although I’m not in it all the time I do rely on it, and can only walk very short distances.

"I can see myself slowly getting worse, but this trial might change that – if it leads to a new treatment for SPMS, the next ten years could look completely different.”

Steve has lived with the condition for around 20 years.

Before he was diagnosed with its secondary progressive form he worked as a carpenter, however now he is unable to work.

MS affects over 100,000 people in the UK, and most expect to develop a progressive form of the condition.

It causes problems with how people walk, move, see, think, and feel.

Around 30 sites across the UK will take part in the trial, involving 1,180 people with SPMS, who currently have no effective treatment.

It is hoped the multi-million pound trial will prove Simvastatin will be the remedy for the condition.

Dr Jeremy Chataway, of the UCL Institute of Neurology, who is leading the trial, said: “Simvastatin is one of the most promising treatment prospects for secondary progressive MS in our lifetime.

"People with this form of the condition have been waiting decades for a drug that works, which is why there’s such excitement around being able to start the trial.

"While it’s still early days, we believe Simvastatin could change lives.”