May 20th marks International Clinical Trials Day, a day on which we celebrate the first ever clinical trial undertaken by naval surgeon, Dr James Lind, who in 1747, systematically investigated and subsequently demonstrated the benefit of drinking lime juice for the prevention of scurvy. This trial served as an early prototype of how modern day clinical trials would be run, but I am glad to say that things have moved on from those heady seafaring days of yesteryear. Clinical Trials are a fundamental part of cancer research as they offer patients early access to the very latest anti-cancer drugs in a safe and controlled environment and where the impact of these new drugs can be quickly measured before approval (or not) for wider use.
Cancer Research Wales is pleased to have been able to support clinical trials in Wales for over 20 years. Through part-funding of the clinical trials unit at Velindre Cancer Centre we have helped to ensure that Welsh patients quickly benefit from the latest advancements in cancer research and drug discovery and development. Recent early phase immunotherapy trials for metastatic bowel cancer have provided important insights into how the immune system can be tweaked and re-rest to improve outcomes, with little or no side-effects. The final results from the ground-breaking TaCTiCC trial are due to be published within the next couple of months, and we can’t wait to tell you more about this exciting work when they released.
This year we also look forward to the start of a pioneering radiotherapy trial, joint funded by Charitable Funds from Velindre Cancer Centre and Cancer Research Wales. This trial (which we covered in depth last month), the first of its kind in Wales, will use advanced technology and medical imaging to improve the targeting of radiotherapy to cancers of the Head and Neck. It is hoped this increased precision will lead to improved control of tumours and increase survival.
One this day, we would like to thank most of all the patients who play the most significant role in clinical trials and the advancement of our understanding of cancer and how they respond to modern treatments. Also we do well to remember all the clinical trial nurses who serve and work tirelessly as an important intermediate between the patient and the clinician. People undertake their work with the utmost care and compassion, and who are always at hand to help, guide and reassure patients during every step of their journey.