Local health researchers are celebrating after it was announced that the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Leicester Clinical Research Facility (CRF) based at University Hospitals of Leicester (UHL) NHS Trust has been awarded £4.1 million over the next five years to carry out early phase clinical research.
The NIHR Leicester Clinical Research Facility (CRF) is one of just 28 CRFs that have been funded in England to expand early phase clinical research delivery in NHS hospitals.
CRFs support the delivery of early translational and experimental medicine research. This means they aim to find out the correct dose for a medicine, how often the medicine should be given to remain effective, the effects of said medicine (including side effects), and how the body processes the new medicine as it travels through your system. CRFs provide dedicated purpose-built facilities and expertise to deliver such studies, which are funded by the NIHR, the life sciences industry and other organisations, such as charities.
The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Leicester CRF was launched in 2017 following a grant of £1.4 million .This latest award, which represents almost a three-fold increase in funding, will cover the period to 2027. In the latest bid, UHL has partnered with the University Hospitals of Northamptonshire (UHN) NHS Group, to increase both the number of clinical trials and the opportunities for people over a broader geographical area in the East Midlands to take part in research.
Tracy Kumar, NIHR Leicester CRF Manager, said: “We are delighted to be able to build on and strengthen our early-phase research in Leicester with this new funding and to be joined by our partners at University Hospitals of Northamptonshire as we embark on what I believe is a very exciting future for our patients, research volunteers, staff and wider health community.
“We are grateful to NIHR for investing in Leicester and look forward to bringing novel treatments to patients as well as supporting our staff to train and develop skills to manage some of the most complex treatments at the cutting edge of medical science.”
Over the last five years the CRF has offered expertise in multiple key specialities, including cardiovascular, respiratory, cancer, lifestyle, and emergency and acute medicine.
During the COVID-19 pandemic the Leicester CRF was crucial in the rapid set up of Urgent Public Health studies at UHL. Leicester was the highest recruiter for the RECOVERY trial, providing the evidence for the first treatments for COVID-19. The CRF continues to support the COVID-19 response via vaccine studies like COV-BOOST.
Professor Nigel Brunskill, NIHR Leicester CRF Director and a consultant in renal medicine, said: “This grant is a testament to the hard work, dedication and expertise of the early phase research team we have built in Leicester over the last five years. I am so proud of everyone who has worked on the successful bid to bring this additional funding to Leicester, so that we can ultimately provide more opportunities for patients in our communities to access pioneering treatments that are not yet routinely available on the NHS.”
Kay Faulkner, Associate Director Research, Innovation and Education at University Hospitals of Northamptonshire NHS Group said: “Our strategic partnership with University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust enables us to work more collaboratively across the East Midlands, for the benefit of patients and staff alike. The NIHR Leicester CRF forms part of our strategic partnership goals with Leicester’s Hospitals and will support us to grow our clinical trial portfolio.”
The NIHR has expanded funding for early phase research across the country. Nearly £161 million has been awarded over five years to NIHR CRFs which is a £49 million (43%) boost, and five new facilities have been established in England.
Professor Lucy Chappell, Chief Executive of the NIHR and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Department of Health and Social Care, said: “NIHR’s CRFs scheme has been a key force in translational research across England, helping to position the nation as internationally competitive in early stage clinical research.
“This new funding, a 43% increase, will allow the CRFs to continue to drive forward innovation in experimental medicine and support translation of exciting discoveries into new treatments for patients.”
For more information about NIHR Leicester CRF, visit www.leicestercrf.nihr.ac.uk.