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To bedside and back again – working with patients to develop clinical trials

Posted on 25 March, 2014 by Louise Dean
_DSC1590An event last week on cancer imaging, led by patients for patients, embodied the ethos of ‘bench to bedside and back again’ – researchers, clinicians and patients working together, and learning from each other, to design and implement the best clinical trials.

I was lucky enough to attend the event and the enthusiasm of the patients was self-evident – they are interested in the technologies used to diagnose and treat their tumours and want to get involved with clinical trials to help drive cancer imaging research. And the researchers? Well, they value patient input to shape clinical trials.

The event was organised by the NIHR Clinical Research Facility in Imaging and the Biomedical Research Centre at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust and The Institute of Cancer Research, London.

This two-way interaction between laboratory scientists, clinicians and patients helps direct our imaging research not only on developing the best imaging technology, but also on improving the experience of the patient. It is this interaction that helps us and The Royal Marsden to make a real difference to the lives of patients.

The ICR’s unique partnership with The Royal Marsden enables the translation of discoveries into clinical practice through our ‘bench-to-bedside’ approach. But is it the flow of information back to the lab – bench to bedside and back again – that was the focus of this event.

It all kicked-off with a short presentation by two patients who were representatives on the organising committee. They gave a heart-felt introduction to how their own cancer treatment led them to get involved with clinical trials and how it empowered them to understand their treatment.

Researchers, clinicians and nurses were on hand to answer questions from patients, discuss the latest imaging research and to demystify clinical trials. The patients were then led on a tour of the imaging facilities at The Royal Marsden and the ICR.

What struck me most was the community of support that surrounds the patients, and also the desire for patients to understand their treatment and contribute to cancer research.

Patients are fundamental to helping the ICR and The Royal Marsden shape our research priories. This event was the first of its kind for imaging research and was a resounding success – with nearly 100 patients attending – double the amount anticipated. Patients came from Oxford, Portsmouth and Newcastle – so not just those local to London.

There is definitely a thirst among patients for knowledge about cancer and its treatment, and I’m sure we can expect more events along the same lines.
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