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Case study: Trial drug puts keen motorcyclist back on life’s fast lane

Suresh Chand is enjoying life again thanks to his participation in clinical trials.

A drug he first received because of being part of a clinical trial at Barts Health NHS Trust has given Suresh Chand a new lease of life.

Suresh, who is a keen skier and motorcyclist, was hit by pains in his joints which left him in agony. He said: “Some days I would cry. I could not really do the things I enjoyed. Some days were really bad. For example, I could not brush my teeth because I could not bend my arm and sometimes even moving was quite difficult.”

After seeing different doctors and for a time, trying homeopathy, Suresh was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in autumn 2010.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a long-term condition that causes pain, swelling and stiffness in the joints. The condition usually affects the hands, feet and wrists.

After some months of taking the steroid methotrexate, Suresh decided the pain was too great so his consultant, based at Whipps Cross Hospital, part of Barts Health, advised him that he could be part of a clinical trial into another potential drug for his condition.

Suresh’s first clinical trial, which he started in 2011, did improve his condition, but the trial was later discontinued.

Undaunted, he then signed up for a second trial, which tested the drug tocilizumab in rheumatoid arthritis patients via an intravenous drip given each month.

Suresh found this drug to be more effective. Although the trial has now ended, Suresh has continued to be able to take the drug after the NHS agreed to fund its use off the back of its success in trials. Staff at Barts Health have even gone the extra mile for Suresh by sending him injections of the drug to administer at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a result of his experience, Suresh is now a keen advocate for clinical trials. “I am all for them,” he said. “I would say if someone is approached about taking part in one, that you really do get excellent care and if something else is wrong with you that you did not know about, they are likely to pick it up in the course of the trial.

“Even if the results of the trial don’t help you personally, they may well help someone else in the future and it is all done in a safe, controlled environment.”

Suresh, a 67-year-old former care home owner from Woodford Green, north-east London, is now enjoying life much more fully thanks to tocilizumab and dedicated care from his clinical team.

“Nothing really debilitates me anymore,” he explained. “I am able to go skiing and motorcycling and life, touch wood, is not too bad.”

• To find out more about clinical trials taking place in your area, visit the Be Part of Research website.