Trials Acceleration Programme
The Trials Acceleration Programme (TAP) is an exciting new initiative led by Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research to deliver more life-saving treatments to blood cancer patients through clinical trials.
By setting up a network of leading treatment centres around the UK, coordinated by a central hub, TAP will break down the barriers that exist in the UK in getting new treatments to blood cancer patients when they most need them.
Developing and delivering successful new treatments depends on clinical trials
Clinical trials test new drugs in patients and are vital for moving breakthroughs made in the lab into new drugs, diagnostic tools and other treatments that improve survival and quality of life.
Despite the fact that research continues to yield promising new treatments it is often not possible to test these in clinical trials and potentially life-saving drugs are left to sit on the shelf.
More clinical trials will save more lives in the UK
We want to change the way clinical trials are run in the UK so more patients have access to life-saving treatments.
Currently only 6% of blood cancer patients have access to clinical trials, compared with 19% for patients with other types of cancer. This means that blood cancer patients in the UK are missing out on access to new drugs and treatments.
Too much paperwork and too many hurdles
Clinical trials in the UK, particularly in blood cancer are difficult to set up and slow to deliver results. Currently it can take anything from four to ten years to complete a trial and analyse the results.
This is for a variety of reasons; the main issues being a lack of staff resources in hospitals to manage the trial paperwork and additional patient care. The other major issue is getting new protocols off the ground, which involves a lot of bureaucracy.
Another important issue is that blood cancers, taken as individual diseases are rare. It is therefore difficult for a single hospital to recruit enough patients onto a trial that has very specific requirements and so some trials are never completed.
The clinical trials ‘bottleneck’
Before new drugs can be licensed and new treatment protocols accepted they need to go through a series of phased clinical trials. Early phase trials (I and II) that test the safety and effectiveness of very new treatments are the most difficult to set up.
A lack of early phase trials is causing a bottleneck that prevents new treatments getting to blood cancer patients, when they most need them.
New drugs to patients, faster
We have selected 13 treatment centres around the UK; coordinated by a central hub in Birmingham to set up more blood cancer clinical trials, quicker than ever before.
TAP will see blood cancer clinical trials being completed within two years; the extensive paper work and bureaucracy surrounding clinical trials mean that currently these can take anything up to ten years to complete.
We have invested £1.3 million into a central hub - an expert team of scientists skilled at setting up clinical trials - to ensure that new trials open at each of the 13 treatment centres, simultaneously. This will increase the catchment area meaning that each trial meets its recruitment target more efficiently, the results are delivered faster, and patients have access to new treatments - where ever they live in the UK.
We have invested a further £1 million to ensure that each TAP centre has a dedicated research nurse and data manager to look after patients on our trials and get the results processed more quickly, benefiting patients in the future.
Change for the future
TAP was launched in 2011 and now has nine trials being set up to recruit patients. We are proud to have this initiative in place in such a short time-frame and have since been in talks with the government who are watching closely as they recognise that this model is an excellent framework for running trials in other diseases too.
In the next couple of years we hope to invest further funds to open even more trials and treatment centres within the TAP network to further increase our reach to blood cancer patients.
Boosting UK industry
Pharmaceutical companies have shown a great interest in TAP as they can see the benefit of a streamlined trials network for the development and testing of new drugs.
We plan to nurture this relationship and deliver potentially life-saving new blood cancer drugs that can be tested in patients, at little cost to the charity and the NHS.
This initiative has long-term benefits to the UK industry and the potential for creating hundreds, or even thousands, of new jobs.