Faculty of Pharmaceutical Medicine welcomes the increase in funding and expansion of the AGILE COVID-19 clinical trials platform
The Faculty of Pharmaceutical Medicine (FPM) welcomes the announcement by the Department of Health and Social Care for an additional multi-million-pound funding boost for a Phase I clinical trial platform to fast-track innovative treatments for COVID-19, complementing the existing funding and trial programmes already underway within the AGILE clinical trial platform.
The AGILE platform is concerned with phase 1 and 2a clinical trials. A phase 1 trial is the earliest stage of human trials and is an essential first step that ensures treatments meet safety standards. It is an important link in the chain of accelerated drug development, evaluating potential candidate treatments for COVID-19 and advancing only the compounds most likely to be effective into large-scale clinical trials.
Once they pass phase 1, they then go into larger-scale clinical development programmes, such as those including the RECOVERY or PRINCIPLE platforms trials, before being made available on the NHS if proven to be effective. FPM expects this development will support the fast-track for more innovative treatments, shortening the time taken to identify, effective treatments for COVID-19.
The AGILE platform is a collaboration between the University of Liverpool, the University of Southampton Research Unit, and other external partners. The funding has been awarded by the Medical Research Council (MRC) and co-funded though the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). It is hoped that the funding will attract the brightest of researchers and manufacturers from around the world to trial their medicines in the UK. FPM would encourage companies with agents suitable for inclusion to send in their proposals.
Commenting on this development, Dr David Jefferys, FPM Board Member and Trustee, said:
“The announcement today of the establishment and funding for a phase 1 clinical trial platform to fast-track innovative treatments for Covid-19 is a landmark development. This will confirm the vital role that UK science and the NHS has built with the RECOVERY and REMAP-CAP platforms. This announcement is especially welcome as it will make well validated therapies available to NHS patients at the earliest possible moment. With the success of the first generation vaccines and therapeutic treatment and work well advanced on the second generation, the rapid development of new therapies is even more important as we learn to live alongside this virus.”
Dr Sheuli Porkess, Chair of the Policy and Communications Group, FPM and member of the scientific advisory board for AGILE, said:
“Development of new medicines relies on potential treatments being tested in different phases of development to check how they work and if they meet safety standards. We need to do this as quickly as possible to find treatments that will work against COVID-19. AGILE provides a platform to test new COVID-19 treatments, bridging the gap between non-human trials and large-scale testing. This expansion of AGILE will ensure that new treatments can be tested quickly and ,links to the later phase platforms through the DHSC Therapeutics Taskforce will ensure that promising treatments can be quickly progressed to the next stages of testing and ultimately to patients.”