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Insight blog: Posts tagged with clinical trials

Stories about the people, science and research of the Medical Research Council.

Going further to make all clinical trials public

8 Jun 2018

By backing the AllTrials campaign we commit to making all clinical research – both positive and negative – publicly available. We’ve taken the lead in the UK by helping our researchers achieve this goal. But there’s still more funders can do, as Síle Lane, Head of international campaigns and policy at Sense about Science, explains.

Síle Lane

The MRC was one of the first organisations to sign up to the AllTrials campaign which is now supported by almost 800 organisations worldwide. AllTrials is the global campaign for all clinical trials to be registered and results reported.

With backing from organisations like the MRC we have been able to put clinical trial transparency on agendas at the highest levels including the World Health Organisation, the UN, national governments and the European Parliament. New laws mandating transparency have been written and serious discussions have started in research organisations and professional societies about new rules they should adopt to support more transparency. [...]

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Working life: Professor Janet Darbyshire

8 Feb 2018

Professor Janet Darbyshire worked in medicine and then clinical trial based research from the early 1970s. Playing an instrumental role in the development of HIV treatment, she’s worked on and coordinated many clinical trial programmes in the UK and Africa. Last month we celebrated her achievements at a ceremony held within the Houses of Parliament, awarding Janet our most prestigious award, the MRC Millennium Medal. Here Janet tells us about her early memories of medicine, giraffes in Africa and the changes she’s seen her research make to people’s lives.

Career in brief [...]

  • Qualified in medicine at The University of Manchester in 1970
  • MSc in Epidemiology from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine 1990
  • Became head of the MRC HIV Clinical Trials Centre in London in 1989
  • In 1998 established, and became director of, the MRC Clinical Trials Unit (CTU)
  • Awarded an OBE in 1996 and a CBE in 2010 for services to clinical sciences

Continue reading: Working life: Professor Janet Darbyshire

To the Crick! Part 5: 100 years of tuberculosis research and 70,000 years of evolution

20 Dec 2016

For our final post in the ‘To the Crick’ series, we hear from Luiz Pedro Carvalho. He’s moving from the site of what was the National Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) in Mill Hill to the new Francis Crick Institute building in King’s Cross. We find out about Luiz’s work, focused on tuberculosis (TB), and look back at over 100 years of MRC-funded TB research.

a side view of open-plan lab space inside the Crick

Open-plan lab spaces inside the Crick

“It’s a mixture of excitement and already missing the place,” says Luiz. Mill Hill was home to NIMR for most of its lifetime but activities there have nearly come to an end. The venerable institute is now part of the Francis Crick Institute. [...]

Continue reading: To the Crick! Part 5: 100 years of tuberculosis research and 70,000 years of evolution

Simple diagnostic saves lives

8 Nov 2016

Professor of Obstetrics Andrew Shennan at King’s College London has developed a simple diagnostic device to measure blood pressure, pulse and detect shock in pregnant women. He’s now putting it to the test in a large trial across 10 centres in eight countries funded through the Joint Global Research Programme for Women’s and Children’s Health in collaboration with India’s Department of Biotechnology.

Pregnant woman stands in an alleyway with a bike

Photo credit: Meena Kadri under CC BY 2.0

It’s taken 10 years but we finally have it. It’s cheap, it’s easy to use and it could save the lives of thousands of women every year. [...]

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Why MRC-industry asset sharing is a win-win for me

14 Sep 2016

Just how useful is it to get access to a pharmaceutical company compound? Back in 2012 Dr Richard Mead of the University of Sheffield was one of 15 academic project leaders funded by the MRC to research an alternative use for a compound no longer being developed by AstraZeneca. As we launch the next round of the MRC-Industry Asset Sharing Initiative he tells us how the collaboration has brought together the best of both worlds.

Copyright: Richard Mead

Copyright: Richard Mead

I’m no stranger to the pharmaceutical industry. I spent three years in drug development at Celltech in the early 2000s. But even with my experience, it’s still amazing to be reminded of the resources that pharmaceutical companies have at their fingertips. It sounds obvious, but their access to unique compounds, and their ability to make them, is impressive. [...]

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Fighting cancer like an infection

8 Jun 2016

Professors Irv Weissman and Ravi Majeti at Stanford University and Professor Paresh Vyas at the MRC Molecular Haematology Unit in Oxford, are working on an antibody from the Stanford investigators that enables the immune system to detect and kill cancer cells. They are now testing whether it’s safe and effective for use in people with blood cancer. In this week’s blog they tell us how they collaborated across the Atlantic to get public funding for a project that has led to a spin out with multiple backers and a promising clinical trial.

Immune cells start to recognise and destroy a tumour

What if we could make our immune system fight cancer like it fights infection?

These aren’t the only teams in the world grappling with that question but for Professor Irv Weissman and Professor Paresh Vyas, the solution feels tantalisingly close for patients with blood cancer. [...]

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World TB Day 2016: Treating TB faster

23 Mar 2016

Researchers at the MRC Clinical Trials Unit at UCL are working on projects to tackle different forms of tuberculosis (TB) with shorter treatment programmes. The STREAM project is looking at multidrug-resistant TB, the TRUNCATE project is looking at drug sensitive TB, and the SHINE project is investigating new, shorter treatments for children with TB.   

Infograohic: TB kills three people a minute, treatment takes two years for drug resistant strains, trials will determine whether shorter treatments are as effective which could mean faster recovery and less resistance.
Tuberculosis kills three people every minute. Treatment invariably involves a long course of drugs and the burden of disease falls hardest on low-income countries with stretched health systems. Three projects are running at the MRC Clinical Trials Unit to investigate the efficacy of shorter courses of drugs in some of the countries worst affected by TB. [...]

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Measuring vaccine impact through surveillance

7 Mar 2016

For the first time, after eight years of collaborative work, results are published in Lancet Infectious Disease describing the positive impact of the introduction of pneumococcal conjugate vaccines in a low-income country. But how do you go about measuring this ‘impact’? Principal Investigator of the Pneumococcal Surveillance Project at MRC Unit, The Gambia, Dr Grant Mackenzie, explains the human resource required for large-scale disease surveillance in rural Africa, the challenges and the rewards.

The study team

The study team

Pneumococcal disease is caused by a bacterium known as Streptococcus pneumoniae. Symptoms range from sinus and ear infections to pneumonia, bloodstream infections, and meningitis. The pneumococcus bacteria cause more deaths in children worldwide than any other single microorganism and those in low-income countries are particularly at risk.

MRC Unit, The Gambia has conducted pneumococcal research for over two decades. It started with a disease burden study in 1989, in the Basse area in the rural east of The Gambia, which established the substantial burden of invasive pneumococcal disease. [...]

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Working life: Olubukola ‘Bukky’ Idoko

10 Jun 2015

Dr Olubukola Idoko is a clinical trial coordinator and paediatrician at MRC Unit, The Gambia. Here she tells us about a recent trial of a multi-dose pneumococcal disease vaccine, and why even the crazy hours are worthwhile.

Olubukola 'Bukky' Idoko 

Olubukola ‘Bukky’ Idoko

Throughout my medical training I always felt I wanted to do something with a focus on preventative medicine, impacting many people at once rather than individual patients every day. I realised this played an important role in solving health challenges in Sub-Saharan Africa. [...]

After finishing my medical training at the Jos University Teaching Hospital in Nigeria, I did some research and found that The Gambia had done well with their immunisation programmes for a small West African country. This led me to MRC Unit, The Gambia in 2010 and I’ve been here ever since.

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Clinical trials: from policy to participation

19 May 2015

After years funding, overseeing and monitoring clinical trials, our Director of Corporate Affairs Dr Tony Peatfield has found himself on the other side of a trial ― as a participant. Here he reflects on how his medical care has benefited from clinical trials, and why the opportunity to sign up to one was not to be missed.

Tony Peatfield

Tony Peatfield

Life is full of surprises, some more welcome than others. My most recent was to find myself in A&E with a heart attack. I consider(ed) myself generally healthy – I have a good diet, drink moderately, have never smoked, and do a reasonable amount of exercise (though I admit nothing too vigorous). Indeed until now, during my 30 years working for the MRC, I had taken only one day off sick.

I had excellent treatment and care in hospital, and having to spend a lot of time on my back with tubes and wires attached to me gave me some time to reflect on what was happening to me! [...]

Continue reading: Clinical trials: from policy to participation