The National Institute for Health Research Patient Recruitment Centre (NIHR PRC): Newcastle is celebrating after winning a Bright Ideas in Health award for one of the first virtual trials in England. The NIHR PRC is run by Newcastle Hospitals and is one of only five PRCs in the country.
The team won the research impact category, which recognised a research team in the North East and north Cumbria who demonstrated innovative ways to run a study during the pandemic.
The trial, which is sponsored by EnteroMed Ltd., assessed the efficacy, tolerability and safety of enterosgel, a drug-free treatment for irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhoea (IBS-D). It was one of the first fully virtual interventional clinical trials to be conducted in England and used digital technology to recruit and deliver the trial without the patient visiting the recruiting site. This reduced risk during the pandemic and meant more patients could participate regardless of their geography.
Professor Yan Yiannakou, Clinical Director at NIHR PRC: Newcastle said: “I am delighted to win a Bright Ideas in Health award for the work we have done to deliver the RELIEVE IBS-D virtual trial. This was a team effort and I want to thank the whole team at the PRC: Newcastle for their efforts, as well as Enteromed Ltd, who allowed us to innovate and worked with us.
“This milestone in NHS capability was not reached in a single step, but was a journey supported by several collaborations over several years and I want to especially recognise the support from NIHR Clinical Research Network North East and North Cumbria and The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust research informatics team.”
The success of the virtual trial marks a ground-breaking achievement for the NHS and could help to shape the future of research design and delivery, enabling more patients to access research opportunities and ensuring the UK is in a strong position to compete in the global research landscape.