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Platform for Covid-19 clinical trials gets £3.7m funding boost

Funding will help expand Agile clinical trial platform for rapid evaluation of early stage treatments

The UK government has awarded £3.7 million to a platform for phase 1 clinical trials aimed at fast-tracking Covid-19 treatments.

The move follows calls from the chief medical officer and chief scientific adviser for improving the early stages of coronavirus drug development in the UK.

The funding from the Medical Research Council and National Institute for Health Research will be used to expand the existing Agile clinical trial platform.

The platform—a collaboration between the University of Liverpool and Southampton—is designed for rapid clinical evaluation of potential Covid-19 treatments.

The government said its innovative design means multiple potential treatments can be evaluated in parallel, with testing stages “completed in months rather than years”.

Securing the ‘world’s best treatments’

Once the treatments pass phase 1, the earliest stage of human trials, they will go on to larger-scale phase 2 and 3 trials through the government-funded platforms knowns as Recovery and Principle.

The government said its Therapeutics Taskforce will work with innovators to support them to progress their promising treatments through all clinical trial phases.

“[The] news will ensure all phases of clinical trials for new treatments are done in the UK, protecting our supply chain and securing the world’s best treatments for NHS patients at a much faster rate,” said health secretary Matt Hancock.

“I am immensely proud of the work that’s been undertaken by the brilliant scientists behind these treatments and the thousands of UK patients who have taken part in the trials.”

The govenrment said the UK had proven throughout the pandemic to be a “world leader in medical research and life sciences, stepping up quickly to the task of finding effective therapeutics for a completely new virus and supported by millions in funding by the UK government”.