Newcastle Doctors urge people with bladder conditions not to suffer in silence this International Clinical Trials Day
Today is International Clinical Trials Day, but clinical trials are taking place in Newcastle all the time and are helping to transform the lives of people affected by “taboo” bladder conditions.
Bladder problems affect the quality of life of millions of people around the world - men and women, young and old. Yet many people keep it secret for years before asking for help.
The research programme for Urinary Tract Infections at the Newcastle upon Tyne NHS Foundation Trust is led by Mr Chris Harding, Consultant Urological Surgeon, who comments: “Urological conditions often don’t get talked about but they affect a large number of people.
“The urological conditions we research are more common than you might think. UTI is an extremely prevalent condition and half of all women (50%) will get a UTI in their lifetime, 2.5% (1 in 40) will get recurrent UTIs and 1 in six UK adults suffer from overactive bladder syndrome which can lead to urinary urgency frequency and incontinence.
"Patients may be unable to participate in the activities or sports they once enjoyed or travel far from home, bladder problems can also lead to patients developing further conditions such as depression.
“Clinical trials are crucial to developing treatments that can greatly improve patients’ quality of life.
“As well as our funding from NIHR Clinical Research Network North East and North Cumbria, our work with the life sciences sector is increasing rapidly. This close collaboration between Newcastle University, industry and clinicians means patients can access the latest treatments.
“We are passionate in the department that all patients should have access to research studies as part of their treatment and by taking part in commercial studies we can also help to shape the treatments of the future.”
The ALTAR trial (ALternatives To prophylactic Antibiotics for the treatment of Recurrent urinary tract infection in women) compares a drug called methenamine hippurate against the current standard of daily low dose antibiotic and is led from Newcastle by Mr Harding. The study is trying to help solve an important problem with current overuse of antibiotics which is linked to the development of resistant bacteria.
Retired Northumberland nurse, Christine, 66, is taking part in a trial to find new treatments to tackle recurrent UTIs that have affected her health for the last 14 years.
Christine said: “It has been going on for so long, that when I was offered the chance to take part in the trial, I was pleased to get involved. I keep fit, running four times a week and eat a healthy diet, and no one could work out why the infections kept coming back. When it happened, I felt dreadful and had debilitating pain in my back around my kidneys. I would be unwell for a week at a time and the episodes were very frequent. It had a real impact on my quality of life.
“It is going really well so far and the staff at the Freeman Hospital have all been fantastic, providing lots of information.
“I think we are really lucky to live in the North East where there is so much research taking place and would absolutely recommend that if you are given the chance to join a clinical study to take it.
“It is also good to feel that you are helping to contribute towards future treatment."
Baroness Blackwood, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Health and Social Care said: “From the eradication of smallpox and the discovery of penicillin, the UK has a strong track record of public health successes which have saved countless lives. All of our successes to date would have been impossible without world-leading research and the selfless volunteers who take part in clinical trials."
“Through our Long Term Plan, we are determined to make it even easier for people to get involved in research and the NIHR’s Be Part of Research website is an important step to making this happen.”
Mr Harding added: “It is vital that we undertake research both nationally and internationally to continue to improve the health and wellbeing of all patients”.