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Health & Fitness Covid drugs blueprint ‘will transform treatments for heart disease, dementia and cancer’

23:07  24 january  2022
23:07  24 january  2022 Source:   inews.co.uk

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The scientist who identified the first life-saving Covid-19 drug has launched a project to transform treatments for heart disease, dementia and cancer.

Professor Sir Martin Landray said his new not-for-profit organisation Protas represented a “radical leap forward” in the way that clinical trials can be conducted and will enable earlier access to better treatments, not only for life-threatening conditions but also neglected diseases, such as depression and chronic respiratory disease.

While there has been a trend in improved global life expectancy in recent decades, the burden of common and life-threatening conditions on populations around the world continues to rise. Simultaneously, the development of treatments for many of these has dwindled.

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Scientists say the economics for developing new treatments for these diseases are increasingly challenging and, consequently, fewer therapies are being developed for the conditions that place the greatest burden on patients and health systems.

Sir Martin, who was the architect of the landmark Recovery trial which identified the cheap steroid dexamethasone as an effective treatment against Covid-19, said drug trials had become overly complicated and “hideously” expensive.

He argued that they are failing to deliver effective, affordable drugs for patients. Testing a drug typically costs more than a billion dollars and takes an average of seven years.

Sir Martin said Protas was well positioned to tackle the problem using its “unparalleled knowledge and expertise” to make clinical trials more affordable while at the same time improving their quality.

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Sir John Bell, who was instrumental in the creation of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine and served on the Government’s vaccine taskforce, is on the Protas board.

Sir Martin said: “As we have seen during the recent pandemic, large randomised clinical trials are critical for the proper assessment of possible treatments.

“The situation is not unique to the pandemic; there are many other common and other life-threatening diseases – for example heart, lung and respiratory disease, arthritis, cancer, depression and dementia – where better treatments are needed to reduce the huge burden on patients and the NHS.

“But these trials need to be large, involve a diverse range of individuals, and produce robust answers to the most important questions.”

Sir Martin announced Sanofi as the first strategic partner for Protas, with the global biopharmaceutical company committing up to £5m for the project. Protas also received an initial grant from NHS England and expects to sign similar agreements with other major pharmaceutical companies over the coming months.

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The partnerships will help to build the foundations of Protas and support a new generation of trials tackling common and other life-threatening disease, Sir Martin said.

He believes he can cut the cost of trials by more than 90 per cent by using the model of the Recovery trial, which has been credited with saving more than a million lives. Recovery began in March 2020 to simultaneously test drugs on thousands of patients arriving in hospital with Covid-19.

Within three months it had demonstrated that dexamethasone could cut deaths among the sickest patients by a third. The team showed that clinical evidence can be rapidly established at low cost by using NHS patients and stripping the trial back to basics. The first studies for other diseases are expected to start next year.

Dietmar Berger, chief medical officer and global head of development at Sanofi, said: “With this collaboration we are taking a bold step to significantly reduce the cost of some of our clinical trials, focusing on what matters the most for patients, doctors, regulators and payers.

“In addition to a proven expertise, Protas offers a unique opportunity to anchor clinical research at the heart of patient care across the NHS, making participation as easy as possible and ensuring all health and care staff feel empowered to support research.”

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This is interesting!