North West London Clinical Trials Alliance launches

A new collaboration between clinical trial teams in north west London has been announced today (14 September) that aims to improve access to and the quality of clinical research in the region. Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust is a partner in the new Clinical Trials Alliance. 

Clinical research facilities (CRFs), primary care networks (PCNs) and the NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN) in north west London, including the CRFs at Imperial College Healthcare, have all joined the alliance, which will be dedicated to delivering co-ordinated clinical trials and effectively utilising existing, purpose-designed facilities to deliver both early and late-phase trials. 

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit in early 2020, clinical research teams across north west London joined together to respond collaboratively to the research need. The teams co-ordinated across the different facilities, meaning that research studies could be shared out more effectively and appropriately, resulting in evidence that could inform national guidelines and policy more quickly. 

The approach worked so well in response to the pandemic, that teams from across the clinical research networks and the universities and NHS institutions which host the clinical research facilities decided to formalise the arrangement to build on the success of the collaboration and improve access to clinical trial resources for future research. 

The alliance is dedicated to both industry funded (e.g. pharmaceutical companies) and publicly funded research trials (e.g. university-led or government funded research) and has an excellent record of recruitment, meaning evidence can be strengthened by larger participant samples. 

Dr Bob Klaber, director of strategy, research and innovation at Imperial College Health spoke at the launch event and said: “It is great to see a positive collaboration such as this emerging from the response to the Covid-19 pandemic, which has been one of the greatest challenges the NHS has ever faced. By bringing together north west London’s collective research experience and resource, we can be far more effective in bringing innovations and cutting-edge treatments to patients more quickly.” 

Imperial College Healthcare has a number of clinical research facilities, including the NIHR Imperial Clinical Research Facility (CRF) on the Hammersmith Hospital campus, which played an integral role in research to develop a Covid-19 vaccine, and a children’s CRF at St Mary’s Hospital. In response to the pandemic, the CRF, in collaboration with the other clinical trials teams in north west London, halted 140 existing studies across a variety of therapy areas to focus exclusively on delivering trials for candidate Covid-19 vaccines. In April 2020, the CRF became one of the first recruiting centres that the Oxford Vaccine Group approached to help deliver their study, COV001. At its peak, the CRF was running three vaccine trials simultaneously at Hammersmith Hospital and a further vaccine trial at Charing Cross Hospital.

The Trust is also part of the Imperial College Academic Health Science Centre and the (National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Imperial Biomedical Research Centre, both of which are translational research partnerships with Imperial College London that bring together multi-disciplinary research and education with NHS resources and clinical experience to advance discovery and innovation in healthcare, as well as providing infrastructure to conduct clinical research.