Muscular Dystrophy: Clinical Trials

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered on 16th May 2018.

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Photo of Derek Thomas Derek Thomas Conservative, St Ives

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to increase capacity at muscle centres to conduct clinical trials.

Photo of Caroline Dinenage Caroline Dinenage Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) works closely with its partners - including charities, other public funders and industry – to ensure the best possible environment for supporting clinical trials. In particular, the NIHR funds infrastructure in the National Health Service to support research and trials, providing the expertise and facilities for high quality research which aims to speed up translation from clinical research to patient benefits.

To aid in the delivery of early phase musculoskeletal research, the NIHR has a number of Biomedical Research Centres (BRCs) with musculoskeletal research themes. These are partnerships between leading NHS organisations and universities, which focus on conducting early translational research. There were 351 musculoskeletal research studies across the BRCs and Biomedical Research Units in 2016-17. The NIHR Translational Research Collaboration in joint and related inflammatory diseases brings together internationally recognised investigators in the United Kingdom's leading centres of excellence to carry out early phase research.

In addition, NIHR Medtech and In vitro diagnostics Co-operatives build expertise and capacity in the NHS to develop new medical technologies and provide evidence on commercially-supplied in vitro diagnostic tests. The Leeds In Vitro Diagnostics Co-operative has a musculoskeletal theme.

Support for muscular wasting disease research is one of the NIHR’s great success stories. Laboratory findings have been taken into NIHR early phase research facilities and developed target products to be trialled in NIHR Paediatric Clinical Research Facilities. These earlier trials are spread across all NHS England Specialised Commissioning funded Muscle Centres and using the support of the NIHR Clinical Research Network have resulted in translating new products for approval by regulators. This work has been done in collaboration with charities and provides a model for building capacity in rare diseases. There is also a further rich vein of commercial clinical trials becoming available for rare muscle wasting diseases. The NIHR and NHS England are committed to ensuring these studies are prioritised through the centres in line with the NIHR/NHS England joint statement on research from November 2017. Further information and the response to the subsequent consultation was published on 4 May 2018:

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