Treatments for Covid-19 will soon be fast-tracked through the UK’s clinical trial system, meaning they could be available on the NHS in months rather than years.
The Government, which currently funds phase 2 and 3 trials such as the Recovery trial, which brought dexamethasone and tocilizumab to the NHS, has awarded multimillion-pound funding to a phase 1 clinical trial platform, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said.
Phase 1 trials, usually arranged by researchers, are the earliest stage of human trials that ensure treatments are safe and show a signal of benefit in treating a disease.
The funding has been awarded to expand the Agile clinical trial platform and will allow for the progress of cutting-edge treatments for Covid-19 through all three clinical trial phases in the UK – a streamlined process that is hoped to protect the supply chain.
The DHSC said this will attract “the brightest of researchers and manufacturers from around the world” to trial their medicines in Britain.
The funding, £3.7 million over two years, has been awarded by the Medical Research Council (MRC) and co-funded though the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Today’s news will ensure all phases of clinical trials for new treatments are done in the UK, protecting our supply chain and securing the world’s best treatments for NHS patients at a much faster rate.
“I am immensely proud of the work that’s been undertaken by the brilliant scientists behind these treatments and the thousands of UK patients who have taken part in the trials.
“Together, we can continue to ensure the UK is one of the best countries in the world for trialling and deploying the most groundbreaking medical advancements for both Covid-19 and for dangerous diseases in the future.”