Over 400 health research trials have restarted and 51 new ones commenced by the health board as part of its recovery plan. NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde has between 9,000 and 10,000 patients participating in research studies each year.
140 of the projects are related to cancer research, led by the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre (BWoSCC).
This includes the BWoSCC being the first site in the UK for a trial of a new cervical cancer drug, tiragolumab. This drug works by stimulating the body’s immune system to fight against the cancer, an approach which has proven highly successful for many patients with other cancers, such as melanoma, bladder, kidney and lung cancer.
These trials support the aim of the research teams at the Beatson to find a trial for every patient at every stage of their disease. Other trials include research into a wide range of cancers affecting adults, including some of the most complex to treat, such as cancers of the pancreas, brain, ovary and cervix.
It is estimated that two out of five people will develop cancer in their lifetime and, in Scotland, the risk of dying from cancer has fallen by 10% in the past 10 years. Much of this improvement relates to improvements in early diagnosis and treatment, improvements driven by the results of clinical trials.
Hundreds of other trials have also restarted for other illnesses, including a stroke study (ATTEST-2) which hit its 1000th recruit last week, and a dietary approach study into Crohn’s disease.
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde has been providing leading research aimed at preventing or treating COVID-19, including participating in RECOVERY, which found the first effective treatment of the virus, and the Oxford University vaccine trial.
Prof Julie Brittenden, Director of Research and Development of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, said:
“We’ve made huge efforts to restart many of our non-essential care trials that were paused back in March and are we are now able to offer patients the opportunity to take part in new studies. This is on top of the work we’ve undertaken over the past six months into COVID-19 and the ongoing vaccine trials. We want to thank patients and staff for their ongoing support, hard work and dedication.”
Prof Rob Jones, Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre, said:
“In line with every other cancer centre in the UK, we had to temporarily close many of our research trials where there were possible risks that new treatments might have on the progress of the virus or where the patients were considered particularly vulnerable.
“We were able to continue trial participation for some patients where it was essential for their care and we were able to safely continue.
“We were amongst the first in the UK to reopen trials as soon as it was safe to do so. Many patients depend on trial treatments to manage their disease, often because there are no standard options available.
“As many of our staff had turned their skills to urgent coronavirus research, it’s particularly pleasing to see that we have recovered these activities so rapidly.”
Dr Jennifer Armstrong, Medical Director, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said:
“I want to thank our staff and patients for the opportunity to reopen hundreds of research trials in these challenging circumstances. This will benefit current and future patients as we strive to improve the prevention and treatment of disease.”