The creation of a ‘clinical trials network’ has huge potential to dramatically change the landscape for dementia research in the UK. Here, we set out our recommendations for how such a network could operate and deliver successful outcomes.
There’s never been a more pressing need to drive increased speed and scale in UK dementia clinical trials, and future-proof our research infrastructure. We propose that, as part of the government’s Dementia Mission and with support from the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR), a clinical trials network for dementia be established in the UK.
There are currently more than 4,000 dementia clinical trials registered globally, of which only 7% are taking place in the UK, and just over 50 of these are actively recruiting participants.
We can’t continue on this path and be surprised when better treatments aren’t yet available for people living with dementia.
Having a network of high-performing clinical trial sites located across the UK, delivered as part of the Dementia Mission and working with other UK and global initiatives like the Dementia Translational Research Collaborative (D-TRC), would provide the critical mass of expertise and infrastructure needed. It would also send a clear signal about the UK’s ambition to the global life sciences sector, and crucially, to everyone affected by dementia.
Investing in clinical trials infrastructure for dementia: a network approach
The main goals of the network must be to:
- Support greater industry investment in the UK
- Increase the percentage of trials with sites in the UK
- Increase the number of UK patients enrolled into international trials.
We recommend five primary focuses for the network. These are:
- Speed – the network will need to focus on how study set-up can be accelerated, without compromising necessary ethical approval and contracting.
- Finding eligible participants – the network should be underpinned by a single clinical data set to enable effective data sharing so that there is a better understanding of the location of patients, allowing them to be selected quickly and efficiently.
- A federated model – the network should feature a central “hub” which will offer support and best practice sharing but not seek to standardise or create unnecessary bureaucracy.
- An inclusive network – the network should encompass a range of sites, both geographically and in their research activities, from leading, well-established research centres to those that are less active but looking to increase their activity and build greater capacity.
- Alignment– the network must be aligned to the wider work of the Dementia Mission, and work closely with other relevant initiatives both in the UK (e.g., Dementia Platform UK’s Trial Delivery Framework and Brain Health Clinics) and globally (e.g., Global Alzheimer’s Platform Foundation trial sites).