Clinical trial research success at local hospital | News and events

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Clinical trial research success at local hospital

International Clinical Trials Day is celebrated across the globe on 20 May and the dedicated research, development and innovation team at The Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust (PAHT) are set to showcase the wide range of research projects that the hospital has been proud to play their part in.

The theme this year is 'Shape the Future' and the team will be out and about in the local community to highlight the improvements in patient care that have been made possible through research that they have been invovled with.

They will also share details of how local people can get involved and become part of research programmes that really will help to shape the future.

They will be at the following locations on Wednesday, 17 May, from 9am-12noon:

  • Sainsbury’s, Fifth Avenue, Harlow
  • ASDA, Water Gardens, Harlow
  • ALDI, First Avenue, Harlow
  • Main entrance at The Princess Alexandra Hospital

The team is small, but their role and impact reaches far and wide. In the past five years, they have helped to recruit over 4,500 participants onto clinical trials.

Chris Cook, head of research, development and innovation at PAHT, said: “We are immensely proud of the work that we undertake for clinical research and the part we play to help make a huge difference to many lives.

“The team are looking forward to meeting our local communities and I hope as many people as possible will be able to pop along to find out more about the work we do and how they can get involved.”

Dr Fay Gilder, medical director, said: “We are extremely proud of the work undertaken here at PAHT by our research, development and innovation team.

“They support clinical research trials across a wide range of specialties, and play an important role in helping to shape the future of medicine and treatments.”

Their key achievements include:

TRACC C – a major bowel cancer research trial

This trial examines ways in which a blood test could detect remaining traces of cancer cells following surgery and help prevent over-treatment of patients who do not need chemotherapy and save them from the side effects.

The blood test works by looking for microscopic traces of cancer in the bloodstream which would be visible on a scan and then patients are placed into one of two groups: 1) those requiring standard treatment or 2) those requiring the circulating tumour DNA (ctDNA) guided adjuvant chemotherapy, who receive the blood test to determine the length and amount of time of chemotherapy treatment.

Since the trial began on 19 January 2023, the team at PAHT have successfully recruited three participants.

TracerX study – an in-depth analysis of how cancers evolve

A tumour starts as a single, corrupted cell, but becomes a mixture of millions of cells that have all mutated in slightly different ways. The TracerX study has monitored this diversity and how it changes over time inside lung cancer patients and how the results could be applied to different types of cancer.

The team has been a major contributor to this study since March 2015, with over 79 participants recruited up to the end of April 2023.

Ground-breaking Covid-19 research

In March 2020, as the scale of Covid-19 was unfolding, the team were contacted by the GenOMICC study team at the University of Edinburgh and Lothian Health Board asking if they had the capabilities to deliver the study that would focus on whole-genome sequencing that looks at the host factors underlying Covid-19.

The study collects DNA from emerging infections and is used not just for Covid-19 but also for sepsis, pancreatitis, burns and other diseases.

This was a priority for National Institute for the Health Research (NIHR) and the team rose to the challenge by quickly identifying a principal investigator, Dr Raj Saha, an intensive care consultant – by the end of April (2020) the study was set up.

By May 2020, the team were recognised for being in the top 20 recruiters over the previous two-week period – this was out of 190 active research sites at the time.

So far, PAHT has recruited 90 participants into the study.

Chelsea II – end of life care study

The team supported St Clare Hospice on the delivery of an important end of life study, sponsored by the University of Surrey.

The aim of this study was to compare accepted standards of care in relation to managing hydration of patients at the end of their life. The findings would then provide doctors with evidence that they can use to inform best practice standards. The clinical needs of participants were the main priority and are always put before any research activity.

St Clare Hospice, with the support of PAHT, recruited the first patient for the whole of the UK in November 2022. Since then, a further three participants have been recruited.

To get involved with clinical research trials at PAHT or to find out more, email:


Notes to editors:

Inpatient comment:

Everyone offered words of such reassurance and kindness. I felt so cared for and the communication with me at all times was fantastic.

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