Protas, the non-profit organisation delivering smarter clinical trials for better health, has today announced a £5 million grant from Flu Lab, a charitable organisation fuelling bold approaches to defeat influenza. This significant grant recognises Protas’ unique ability to deliver better clinical trials at a fraction of the current cost and will enable the organisation to further grow its capacity to design and deliver large, randomised clinical trials for common and other life-threatening diseases including influenza.
Seasonal influenza affects over 1 billion people worldwide, causing illness that ranges in severity and is responsible for around 650,000 deaths annually. In the United States, it is estimated that flu costs the economy around $3.5bn1 each year and in the UK up to 40,0002 people are hospitalised each year, placing huge pressure on the National Health System (NHS).
Flu Lab funds efforts that approach persistent problems in new and dynamic ways with actionable results. Flu Lab’s funding will enable Protas to build its capabilities to undertake large trials of diagnostics, vaccines and treatments for flu and other respiratory infectious diseases, building for a better future where flu places less of a burden on patients and the health systems which care for them.
Since its launch earlier this year, Protas has announced a strategic partnership with global biopharmaceutical company Sanofi, as well as grant funding from venture capital firm GV, and Schmidt Futures, a philanthropic initiative founded by Eric and Wendy Schmidt.
Protas is led by the epidemiologist and physician, Professor Sir Martin Landray, who has over 20 years’ experience of leading large, randomized clinical trials as part of a team at Oxford University’s Nuffield Department of Population Health. Most recently, he has been leading the landmark RECOVERY clinical trial into treatments for COVID-19 which identified that treatment with the inexpensive steroid drug, dexamethasone, improved the chances of survival for the most severe cases.
Professor Sir Martin Landray, Chief Executive of Protas, said: “We are delighted to receive this grant from Flu Lab which will allow us to develop a new approach to clinical trials of treatments for influenza, a major health issue globally. In order to alleviate the extreme pressure flu places on health services like the NHS, we must increase the feasibility and affordability of high quality, large scale randomised clinical trials to properly assess the possible treatments for future flu outbreaks. Flu Lab’s grant is a great endorsement of our work and values and demonstrates confidence in our ability to design and deliver large-scale, randomised trials for better health.”
Protas will combine smart randomized trial design with effective technology and a collaborative approach, aiming to encourage the development of better treatments for conditions3 which affect a large proportion of the population and place huge pressure on the health services that support them and on wider society. It will do this at a fraction of the cost of current trials, by minimising complexity and designing trials that focus on the elements that matter most to the participants in the trial and to those future patients whose care will be impacted by the results. Protas will also use an integrated technology system to support the safe, trustworthy and efficient use of data to deliver its trials and generate the evidence needed to bring treatments to patients.