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Friday 1 May, 2020
Message from our Clinical Director, Dr Robina Coker, and our Chief Operating Officer Joanne Holloway

Two features in this month's Commentary from the Royal College of Physicians caught Robina's eye this week. Joanne and I wanted to share them with you as you take a little breathing space to read this update. The first was a quote by the RCP President, Andrew Goddard, from JRR Tolkien's The Fellowship of the Ring: 

'I wish it need not have happened in my time', said Frodo. 'So do I', said Gandalf, 'and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.'

The second was an illuminating article entitled, ' A very just affront?', relating William Harvey's experience of detention in quarantine in northern Italy in 1636. You will recall that Harvey, a graduate of both Cambridge and Padua Universities, was the first known physician to describe completely, and in detail, the systemic circulation and properties of the blood pumped around the body by the heart. On 13th August 1636, while travelling on business from England to visit the English ambassador Basil Fielding in Venice, Harvey was ordered into quarantine in a lazaretto (plague house) by a local official (podesta) in the city of Treviso, just a day's travel from Venice. Harvey evidently thought his paperwork (a fede di sanita-a postcard-sized printed form issued by the authorities as a certificate of health-from each city he had visited) was in order, but the local officials disagreed. The issuing of fede di sanita was part of a well-established public health system that had developed across Europe since the arrival of the bubonic plague in 1347. The details of the outcome are not recorded, but Harvey did eventually reach Venice, after at least 14 days spent in what he described as 'a very nasty roome' with an 'ill diett'. The episode illustrates that health certificates, whether paper or digital, are not new in times of plague and pandemic. 

There continues to be positive news on the clinical trials front, as you will see below. And you may have seen that there is a new NIHR CRN Centre for BME Health Collaboration Project, led by the Clinical Research Network East Midlands with representatives from each CRN.  We are very grateful to Dr Sonya Abraham, our Clinical Lead for Division Five, for agreeing to be our representative. Sonya is keen to hear from anyone with relevant data, either on the impact of COVID-19 on BME patients, or on access by BME patients to clinical trials in COVID-19, so please contact Sonya if you have information of interest.

In the meantime, have a good week and stay safe.

Robina and Joanne   
Urgent Public Health Studies Update

reminder that you can find details of the studies open - including recruitment figures and a new COVID-19 Research Tracker - as well as updates in the COVID-19 section of our intranet.

For queries regarding the set up and delivery of these studies, please contact
National, collaborative platform launched to fast-track potential COVID-19 treatments

COVID-19 treatments could be fast-tracked through a new national clinical trial initiative involving the NIHR and its partners in industry and the government.

This platform will accelerate the development of new drugs for patients hospitalised with COVID-19, reducing the time taken to set up clinical studies for new therapies from months to just weeks and helping to ease pressure on the NHS and ultimately save lives.

This collaborative platform, known as ACCORD (Accelerating, COVID-19 Research & Development), aims to get an early indication of potential drug treatments’ effectiveness in treating coronavirus. If positive results are seen, these drugs will advance rapidly into the large-scale trials in progress across the country such as the RECOVERY trial, currently the world’s largest randomised controlled clinical trial for COVID-19 treatment.

Read more on the NIHR website.

COVID Research and Platform (Complex Innovative Design) Trials - An Infographic

Many COVID-19 research studies are using the latest innovations in study design to ensure we maximise the knowledge generated in a robust and rapid manner.

We are pleased to share with you a simple, downloadable infographic that highlights the key differences to 'traditional' Randomised Controlled Trials (RCTs) and what this means for patients taking part in these studies.

First Results from ISARIC CCP-UK study 

The first results from the ISARIC ISARIC WHO Clinical Characterisation Protocol, which has enrolled almost 17,000 hospitalised patients with COVID-19 the the UK, have been released. You can read these findings in pre-print here.

You can also watch Professor Calum Semple, one of the investigators from the study, presenting these findings from 17m into this video.

Covid-19 Research Voices 

We want to give a voice to healthcare professionals at the centre of the coronavirus pandemic. Our new blog series COVID-19 Research Voices gives our research delivery workforce the opportunity to share their experiences of what the COVID-19 has meant for them and their work.

The aim of the blog series is to highlight the dedication, courage and sacrifice shown by our research delivery workforce as many return to the frontline in support of the response to coronavirus pandemic and others support the delivery of urgent public health studies.

If you or your team would like to take part in #COVID19ResearchVoices you can find out more on our intranet. For those employed by an NHS Trust we will liaise with your communications team to make sure we meet your own guidelines.
Industry and COVID-19

Read about how our research partners working in the world's pharmaceutical, medical and med tech companies are responding to COVID-19 on our website
Workforce Development
New Course on NIHR Learn for Laboratory Staff

A number of new courses and resources are now on NIHR Learn as part of CRN’s response to the learning needs of the workforce contributing to COVID 19 Research. The most recent of these is Fundamentals of Clinical Research Delivery for Laboratory Staff.

This course can be found in the GCP Online section of NIHR Learn or using the quick link menu on the home page
New COVID-19 area added to the NIHR Learn ‘Engaging with your local NHS: Research Delivery Staff Community’

Following the full launch of the ‘Engaging with your local NHS: Research Delivery Staff Community’ on NIHR Learn in March 2020, we have now added a new area specifically focussed on supporting frontline delivery staff with the personal and professional challenges of delivering COVID-19 studies. 
NIHR Podcast Series 

This podcast series brings together NIHR Podcasts previously recorded by Allan Gaw and hosted on the NIHR Soundcloud into relevant themes for learners to work through. The themes for this current series are: Ethics, Study Design, Special Patient Groups and Patient Public Involvement. There is opportunity for learners to then discuss their thoughts or ask questions using a forum.  The Podcast Series can be found in the Research Health Innovations menu tab of NIHR Learn
Other News

COVID-19 trial begins at Imperial to understand and treat the disease
(Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust website, 27 April.)

Home testing for coronavirus to track levels of infection in the community
(Imperial College London website, 30 April.)

COVID-19 treatments could be fast-tracked through new national clinical trial initiative
Copyright © 2020 Clinical Research Network North West London, All rights reserved.

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