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Greater Glasgow and Clyde Major Clinical Trial Success

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

The Queen Elizabeth University Hospital campus is at the centre of world leading medical research and innovation which is benefiting many thousands of patients  -  not just from Scotland but globally. 

In the last year alone there were over 900 externally funded research studies ranging from observational to complex interventional studies across Greater Glasgow and Clyde.  These were led by approximately 500 clinicians and recruited over 9,000 patients, with many more patients attending for follow up visits. 

A futuristic phone app which can help users and clinicians detect the onset of a psychotic episode, novel gene therapies, and new targets for cancer treatment and heart failure new drug trials are just some of the medical projects pioneered in Glasgow in the last year. 

Professor Julie Brittenden works both as a vascular surgeon for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) and as a research professor for Glasgow University.  And as the health board’s Research and Development Director she also leads the team responsible for enabling and facilitating the growing clinical research and innovation programme. 

Julie said: “Glasgow has a proud history of world leading medical research and development from the ultrasound to the use of antiseptic in surgery and the first ultrasound images of unborn babies. 

“In 2018 -2019 NHSGGC has continued to expand its research portfolio and increased the opportunities for patients and clinicians to take part in high quality research including accessing state of the art therapeutics, devices and testing new models of service delivery. 

“This research is underpinned by joint NHSGGC and University of Glasgow state of the art dedicated clinical research facilities including imaging and close working across NHS departments, industry and academia. 

“Glasgow is now home to one of the most ambitious clinical trial and innovation programmes in Europe delivering huge benefits to thousands of patients every year and helping attract some of the brightest staff to our city’s hospitals and Universities. 

“There is a real dynamism here and I think the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital has been a catalyst for change.” 

Scotland is already recognised globally as a “come to place” for health science. NHSGGC and the University of Glasgow are in the vanguard of that ambition and delivering daily increased benefits for the health outcomes of our patients, with NHSGGC responsible for performing 50% of the commercial research activity in Scotland. 

The advancement of technologies and treatments is the goal with world-leading clinical trials across a whole spectrum of treatments ranging from cancer to biomedical engineering – and everything in-between. 

Julie added:  “Our biggest asset by far is our patients who take part in clinical trials and we are pleased to offer them increasing opportunities to do so. 

“Many patients take part in research purely for altruistic motives so that they can help others as well as having the opportunity to access new treatments.” 

Case Study 1

Around 8,000 people are diagnosed with a relatively rare but highly aggressive cancer known as ‘carcinoma of an unknown primary’ (CUP).  The CUPISCO trial is the first of its kind which aims to find out whether personalised therapy is more effective than chemotherapy for people diagnosed with CUP. 

The Trial has been embedded into the CUP service at the Beatson West of Scotland cancer Centre and one of the centres consultants, Dr Anne McKillop, is the Principle Investigator. 

Dr McKillop said: “Carcinoma of unknown primary is a relatively rare but highly aggressive form of cancer.  Patients have often had a difficult pathway to diagnosis and can struggle to understand and accept the label of being “unknown”.  The diagnosis of CUP is all the more devastating for patients and families as the prognosis is so poor.  This is only made worse by the lack of good treatment options.  In the last 2 years we have been able to open a dedicated CUP service including a multi-disciplinary team and clinic to diagnose and treat patients.  Having the opportunity to enrol into a clinical trial specifically designed for CUP not only gives them hope for their own treatment but also treatment of future patients.” 

The trial has been well received and one participant said: “When I received the diagnosis of cancer of unknown primary, and I realised the prognosis was so dismal, I immediately decided that I was going to throw everything I could at this dreadful disease.  I had never considered taking part in a clinical trial before but when I was approached by my consultant to consider participating in the CUPISCO trial it felt like the right decision for me. 

“As part of the trial I am monitored closely by the research team which I find very reassuring and I have found participating in the trial to be a positive experience.  The only way to beat cancer is to keep conduction new research and I hope my participation in the CUPISCO trial helps people with CUP in the future.” 

Case Study 2

A three year study to develop and test a mobile phone app is being used to enhance detection of a relapse in people diagnosed with schizophrenia.  Relapse is a major cause of distress and disability but through regular monitoring of thoughts and feelings it is possible to identify early warning signs which can support earlier interventions.  


For further information either telephone 0141 201 4429 or email [email protected]


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Last Updated: 11 November 2021