This Clinical Trials Day, hear from some of the people behind our work at Protas.
Clinical Trials Day was launched on 20 May 2005 to commemorate the date James Lind began the first controlled clinical trial in 1747, laying the foundation for modern clinical research.
This year, we’re speaking to colleagues about some of the most pressing issues we face in clinical trials – and what we can learn.
Nearly 38 months after the COVID-19 pandemic began, the World Health Organization (WHO) at last declared on 5 May 2023 that COVID-19 was “no longer a global health emergency”.
Ahead of Clinical Trials Day, this makes me think about the incredible journey that clinical research has been on over the past few years.
2020 saw an almost complete halt to all non-COVID studies to help cope with NHS staff shortages and to implement social distancing requirements.
Whilst this undoubtedly was a significant set-back for the advancement of treatments in many disease areas, there were also some key success stories during this time. Recognising and applying the learnings could help improve health outcomes for generations to come.
For example, the accelerated development of COVID-19 vaccine studies led to a huge breakthrough in the field of mRNA vaccines, which had been studied and developed for many years prior to the pandemic.
We also saw accelerated set-up times for clinical trials and innovative trial designs such as the landmark RECOVERY Trial, which was co-led by Protas’ Chief Executive Officer, Prof Sir Martin Landray, the results of which are estimated to have saved over a million lives worldwide.
The RECOVERY Trial had to ensure its design would be compatible with the NHS environment during the pandemic. This included looking for ways to utilise centralised data and outcome measures which could be easily used to minimise the burden on the NHS.
The COVID-19 pandemic also helped to bring about change in clinical research, as trialists found ways for more participant visits to be conducted remotely, including the rise of decentralised trials.
Even outside of the pandemic these can be beneficial, not only to improve the participant experience, but also for participants who would struggle to attend clinics regularly such as those with disabilities or work or caring responsibilities.
There are many more lessons to learn from looking back on how so much was achieved under difficult circumstances during the pandemic, some of which have been recognised by the UK government in its strategy for delivery of clinical research and the G7 in its 100 Days Mission to accelerate development of clinical research.
I feel really fortunate to be working at an organisation like Protas with a mission of improving efficiency of clinical trials and putting the lessons learned during the pandemic into practice.
This brings me to the main reason I love working in clinical research; the fact that it is ever evolving, and even after working in this area for over ten years I still feel like I learn something new almost every day.