Nearly £161 million in funding has been announced by the NIHR to fund 28 NIHR Clinical Research Facilities (CRFs), expanding the delivery of early phase clinical research in NHS hospitals across England. These CRFs will play a key role in delivering early translational and experimental medicine research, including first-in-human trials and Phase IIa trials for early safety and efficacy research.
28 NIHR CRFs have been awarded funding in this latest round, and half of these are outside of London, Oxford and Cambridge. This forms part of the Government’s goal to level up domestic public investment in R&D activities, and supporting the UK life sciences sector on the global stage.
The Government has already published a vision for the future of UK clinical research delivery, and the work of CRFs is central to these plans. Skills and workforce development are now part of their expanded remit. Over the past year, 4,984 studies have been supported by NIHR and these have leveraged £144 million of funding that year from the life sciences industry and other funders, representing a significant return on investment.
In diagnostic work, examples of projects include a simple at-home urine test to help doctors diagnose what type of diabetes a person has and ensure they received the right treatment has been developed by researchers working with CRFs. The test is now used in nearly every UK hospital, and the method costs an affordable £11.
Other projects include trials for potential new drugs to treat COVID-19 and vaccine trials such as a Phase I study on the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.
“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”, said Professor Lucy Chappell, Chief Executive of the NIHR and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Department of Health and Social Care.