How the University is working with Greater Manchester partners to accelerate clinical trials

As part of the One Greater Manchester partnership, scientists at The University of Manchester are helping to coordinate a growing, national effort to accelerate clinical trials in intensive and critical care patients linked to COVID-19.

The challenge

Researchers and scientists from around the world are looking for a vaccine or specific treatment for the coronavirus (COVID-19). The challenge is a massive but achievable one given the context and immediacy of the current pandemic.

Investigating a solution

Due to its close working relationships and intrinsic research links with local, regional and national health bodies, The University of Manchester is uniquely placed in developing and testing new treatments for COVID-19.

This work is being led by Professor Paul Dark and Dr Timothy Felton at the University as part of the wider One Greater Manchester partnership. The pair, along with their research teams, are coordinating a growing, national collaboration and effort focusing on accelerating clinical trials in intensive care and critical care patients linked to COVID-19.

These trials will focus on assisting, underpinning and developing new vaccine research. This includes looking at new therapies that are currently unproven to work on a virus like COVID-19 but which could prove to be a vital and effective treatment against it. These treatments vary from HIV antiretrovirals and anti-inflammatory agents to immunophenotyping.

Professor Dark and Dr Felton hold research roles at the University as well as clinical positions at the Northern Care Alliance (Salford Royal Hospital) and Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust respectively. They also work across numerous national health bodies such as the National Institute of Health Research and the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence. 

Collaboration is the key

The collaborative and efficient working processes fostered between the University, the Trust, wider NHS and other relevant partners across Greater Manchester allows for national priorities to be pulled through and streamlined to a local level extremely quickly. It’s a model that isn’t mirrored anywhere else in the country, meaning the region can fast-track clinical trials and testing with the University a key part of that process.

Professor Dark says: “The NHS in Greater Manchester and the University are particularly well-suited to dealing with, supporting and carrying out, difficult clinical trials in acutely severely ill patients at an accelerated rate because we’ve been doing it for more than ten years.”

Dr Felton adds: “There is seamless link between the hospital and the University which allows interdisciplinary research and supports new science in this area. This is testament to the investment that has been put into this area over the last decade and the University has played a key role in that.” 

Find out more

Meet the researchers:

Video: Dr Tim Felton explains the focus of MFT’s COVID-19 research