Clinical Research Facility secures funding to deliver blood cancer clinical trials

Cardiff and Vale University Health Board and Cardiff University has secured specialist research nurse funding to support the delivery of blood cancer trials at the Clinical Research Facility at the University Hospital of Wales.

The Clinical Research Facility (CRF) is one of 12 centres across the UK to receive the funding from Cure Leukaemia across a three-year period as part of the Trials Acceleration Programme (TAP) Network, which delivers clinical trials that aim to transform outcomes for patients with blood cancer.

The successful centres were selected from 21 applications by an International Peer Review Panel, chaired by Professor Alessandro Rambaldi from the University of Milan, to receive dedicated specialist research nurse funding for three years, until 31 December 2022.

A member of the TAP Network since 2011 the CRF has contributed to a number of its trials such as PHAZAR. Funded by Bloodwise, PHAZAR tested the safety and clinical effectiveness of combining an existing leukaemia drug (azacitidine) with a new targeted JAK inhibitor (ruxolitinib) for patients with myeloproliferative neoplasms that had progressed to acute myeloid leukaemia, for whom there were few existing available treatments and poor prospects for survival. Of the 34 patients treated as part of the PHAZAR trial five were treated at the CRF, making it one of the top recruiting centres.

The renewed funding of £50,000 per year, funded by Cure Leukaemia, will enable the CRF to continue working closely with the TAP Hub at the University of Birmingham to deliver practice informing trials in blood cancer, reaffirming the University Hospital of Wales and Cardiff University as one of the most prominent blood cancer research centres across the UK.

Forthcoming blood cancer trials delivered at the CRF as part of the TAP Network will give blood cancer patients access to pioneering new treatments, and also contribute to global progress towards finding effective treatments for all forms of blood cancer, which remains the third biggest cancer killer in the UK with approximately 38,000 people diagnosed and 14,000 losing their lives to the disease every year.

One such trial is VICTOR, funded by CRUK, which later this year will test a new lower intensity chemotherapy treatment combination (low dose cytarabine with venetoclax) for older patients with newly-diagnosed acute myeloid leukaemia, who struggle with intensive treatments due to increased toxicity, often with potentially life-threatening side effects.

Dr Steve Knapper, Clinical Reader at Cardiff University School of Medicine and Principal Investigator of the TAP Network in Cardiff, said: “I am delighted that we have secured this funding for our Clinical Research Facility to continue supporting clinical trials for patients with blood cancer.

“Being able to access these pioneering treatments through clinical trials at the CRF can give hope to patients who may otherwise have exhausted all of the existing treatment options available to them.

“I am looking forward to seeing the new trials that we will be delivering as part of the TAP Network come to fruition over the coming three years, contributing to driving forward global progress towards finding effective treatments for blood cancer.”

Cure Leukaemia Chief Executive James McLaughlin said: “We met Steve and his team before Christmas and we were so encouraged by their energy and willingness to help the charity. We are delighted to be providing this funding over the next three years and I hope that by working together with the centre staff, patients and the people of Cardiff we can ensure this can continue beyond 2022.”

For information on Cure Leukaemia please visit www.cureleukaemia.co.uk.