The research teams of Cardiff and Vale Clinical Research Facility (CRF) and Velindre Cancer Centre (CTU) have been shortlisted for the 2018 Nursing Times Awards in the Clinical Research category.
This is the first time that the work of the research staff has been recognised at a national level. Staff will be presenting to the judges panel at Nursing Times HQ on 18 September and attending the ceremony in London on 31 October 2018.
This is a first-of-its-kind collaboration where research staff from two Welsh hospitals came together to plan the joint delivery of a complex clinical trial for cancer patients. Not only was this a first in Wales for two NHS organisations to collaborate, it was also the first time a cellular therapy trial has been delivered in Wales.
The outcome of this trial is not yet known but the feedback from patients indicate that the collaboration itself was a huge success, providing a blueprint for future trials that couldn’t have previously been run in Wales.
This is the culmination of 18 months’ work at the CRF at the University Hospital of Wales (UHW) and the CTU at Velindre Cancer Centre. Staff had spent time in both facilities, receiving training and support with the trials becoming more complex.
In 2016, a new trial for cellular therapy for patients with cancer was presented to the team at Velindre. The specialist procedures could then only be carried out at the Haematology department at UHW. The risky treatment then had to be carried out at a purpose-built research facility by the trained staff. Staff from both departments were met with the support of the Wales Cancer Research Partnership to discuss going forward together to deliver the trial.
The project aim was to overcome the challenges of running a complex clinical trial across two separate organisations. This could potentially allow eligible patients in Wales with lung, kidney and skin cancer the opportunity to access a brand new treatment.
A new all Wales electronic reporting system meant that both teams were able to view blood results without any delay and patient care was adjusted if needed. To make this project a success staff, managers and nurses met for planning, starting in 2016 to discuss challenges and make sure both sites had everything in place or would need to adapt for use.
The UHW Haematology and Research team was tasked with booking patient appointments and performing the apheresis procedure, a method of separating out one particular constituent of a person’s blood and returning the remainder to the circulation. The stem cell lab at UHW agreed to support the storage and transfer of patients’ cells following this procedure, and extra funding was negotiated for specialist staff to work bank shifts to complete this within the tight protocol and timeframe.
Progress was then tracked closely and a project manager and nurse manager took responsibility for the oversight of the project. The first patient was recruited to the trial towards the end of 2017 and received a full course of treatment. The trial is still ongoing and importantly patients with cancer are able to access this trial treatment, patient care being at the centre of this collaboration. From this collaborative model, cross-site working is now in place to support future similarly complex trials. Two more are currently in the set-up stage.
Cellular therapies are now becoming increasingly more common as a treatment for cancer; using a patient’s own cells and harnessing the immune system means fewer side effects than chemotherapy. Additionally, there’s also less risk of an allergic reaction as with other targeted therapies.
This trial model can now be applied to more cellular therapy trials in the future. Having this model work in Cardiff means that new treatments that are developed in Wales can be translated into early- phase research locally for the benefit of patients, the public, and researchers throughout Wales and the UK.
Senior Nurse Manager, Jessie Powell, stated of the award shortlist:
“There’s no reason that collaboration can’t be key if it means a higher level of patient care. After all, patient care is key and at the forefront of what we all do. If two hospitals in Wales can collaborate to offer patients access to a new cancer treatment then this should happen everywhere. I think it’s an important step forward”.