Emily Peters
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What are we doing to support clinical trials?

Emily Peters
Posted by
16 May 2017

We’ve launched a new guide to clinical trials for people with blood cancer – but our efforts to make trials more accessible don’t stop there…

This year, 20 May marks International Clinical Trials Day – the date that James Lind began the world’s first randomised clinical trial, back in 1747.

Lind’s trial – which looked into the causes of scurvy – consisted of just 12 men, and took place aboard the HMS Salisbury. The trial only lasted six days, but within that time Lind had gathered enough evidence to suggest that the consumption of citrus fruits (which we now know to be high in vitamin C) could help to cure the disease.

Clinical trials have clearly come a long way since the 18th century – but thankfully we’re still witnessing remarkable breakthroughs. Clinical Trials Day honours these fantastic medical advances, and serves as a reminder of the life-changing impact clinical trials can have.

This year, the date also marks the launch our latest information booklet for people affected by blood cancer: Your guide to clinical trials. For anyone wanting to learn more about trials, the new booklet explains what they are, how they work, and what it means to join one. The booklet also takes you through the different stages of a clinical trial, along with the risks and benefits associated with taking part.

We’ve also included quotes that share the thoughts and experiences of people who’ve taken part in clinical trials, to help answer some of the questions you may have. We’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who’s worked on the booklet with us – from patient Ambassadors to research nurses – we couldn’t have done it without you!

The booklet also touches on Bloodwise’s own involvement in clinical trials – which we know can be beacon of hope and make a real difference for many people living with blood cancer.

Speeding up the process

Our clinical trials test new drugs, or combinations of drugs, in people living with blood cancer. Trials are really important, because they’re the only way we can prove whether the new treatments developed through research will improve care for people with blood cancer. It’s why a large part of our research investment each year is devoted to funding them – both in the form of our Trials Acceleration Programme (TAP), and a number of trials outside of this network.

Bloodwise launched TAP in 2011, to speed up blood cancer clinical trials. The quicker that  researchers can establish whether a new drug is safe, and if it is more effective than standard treatments, the quicker the best new treatments can be routinely made available on the NHS.

TAP is organised from a central hub at the University of Birmingham run by experts skilled at navigating the logistical and administrative steps needed to set up and conduct clinical trials within strict regulatory guidelines. The hub provides support for the efficient running of trials in hospitals, reducing the time it takes to open clinical trials in locations around the country.

Because of the geographical spread of our centres, people with blood cancer around the whole of the UK are able to join a TAP trial, speeding up the recruitment.

We currently have a network of 13 TAP centres where we support a research nurse, or other staff that help with clinical trials. Seven further locations are affiliated to TAP. These centres benefit from full access to the network, and can contribute to recruitment to individual TAP trials. To date, 19 trials have been set up through TAP, covering all major blood cancers, and we have recruited nearly one thousand people with blood cancer.

Clinical trials outside the TAP network stretch from first-in-human trials right through to the phase III trials – the last step before patients can routinely be given the drugs by their doctor.

Keeping with the ethos of our TAP network, over the past year, we’ve also collaborated with a number of NHS trusts and charitable organisations to support the UK’s Fast Access Trials programme, which is designed to help blood cancer patients get quick and direct access to relevant clinical trials. There are currently 21 of these fast access clinical trials available to blood cancer patients; to find out whether you might be eligible, all you need to do is answer these questions.

If you think Your guide to clinical trials might be useful for you, or someone close to you, you can download it in PDF format. You can also order online, email us at information@bloodwise.org.uk, or give us a call for free on 0808 2080 888 (Mon-Fri 10am-4pm) if you would like a hard copy.

Our clinical trials can only happen thanks to support from you. Find out how you can help us continue with our life-changing research.

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