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Around three million people in the UK have kidney disease

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All trial and no tribulation

31 January 2020

Clinical trials for kidney patients are at an all-time low. Despite trials being imperative for the development of new treatments, clinicians find it increasingly difficult to recruit patients.

The challenge

Often, when we think of clinical trials, we assume the very worst: we assume that we will be taken into unneeded surgery, spend hours of our lives recovering and overall worry we might be put at risk. However, clinical trials will never intentionally put you or your kidneys at risk; you can even help drive research forward just by taking a simple questionnaire.

The problem is, if clinicians don’t have patient participation for at the start of a trial, it could fail to go ahead altogether. On the other hand, if a trial fails to get enough people, it's not as powerful as it could’ve been, putting the trial and ultimately the outcome (even if it’s a positive one) at risk of not being taken seriously. Imagine your trial found a drug that could help slow down kidney disease progression, but the trial didn’t have enough patients as you wanted, so the results are not as well-received as expected. It can be a huge waste of time and money, potentially setting back the research quite a way.

How are we going to change this?

There are many challenges when it comes to improving the quality, safety and number of trials for kidney patients, but we can overcome this.

In September 2019 Miss Prachi Kaushal from Leicester University started to take on this challenge. Her work looks at how previous trials have been carried out so she can understand how patients can best be involved and have a deeper understanding of how research trials are carried out. She is also taking a deeper look at what keeps the Leicester dialysis population engaged in a trial and what could make them want to leave early.

What work is happening outside of Leicester?

The research landscape within the UK is changing and clinical trials are evolving to find newer, faster and more efficient ways to bring new treatments to patients. Kidney Research UK is working together with the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) to support researchers to plan, set up and deliver trials or studies that hit their targets on time within the UK.

This means that we help to ensure that the UK becomes a world leader for renal research trials that is a core part of the Complex Innovative Design trial network.

Prachi Kaushal
Prachi Kaushal , Leicester University

So what does this all mean for me?

Changing how trials happen within the UK is pivotal for shortening the drug development timeline and to get new treatments to all patients, faster.

Prachi’s work is directly helping the research community to understand how they can develop more appropriate trial designs that include better recruitment processes, which will lead to much more positive outcomes for both scientists and patients alike.

So where next?

Prachi’s work alongside our joint effort with the NIHR is paving the way for policy change and trials that patients want to be a part of. Not only this, but it helps other researchers use evidence-based methods that help them to design trials that deliver the best possible outcomes and that patients will want to join. Ultimately, these changes can affect healthcare on a larger scale to improve the quality of lives for patients – as without patients, there is no future to clinical research.

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