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North West London recruits first patient in Europe to new ophthalmology trial

A patient in North West London is the first to be recruited in Europe to a new trial testing a drug for an eye problem caused by diabetes.

The patient was recruited at Central Middlesex Hospital in London (part of London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust).

The study — supported locally by the NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN) North West London — is testing the effectiveness of a drug called THR-149 at treating diabetic macular oedema (DME).

People with DME have vision problems caused by blood vessels leaking in the back of the eye. The current treatment for DME is a drug called anti-VEGF. It has few side effects and can be very effective. But not all patients benefit from this treatment.

This study will therefore test if THR-149 is a better treatment for DME than anti-VEGFs, in patients who are not responding well to anti-VEGFs. The first part of the study identified the best dose of THR-149 to use in the trial, and the active trial commenced globally in October 2021.

"This achievement is testament to the enthusiasm for research among our patients and local staff..."

Dr Christiana Dinah, Director of Research and Development at London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust, said:

"We're so proud to have recruited the first patient in Europe to this trial here at Central Middlesex Hospital.

"This achievement is testament to the enthusiasm for research among our patients and local staff and our ability to set-up studies quickly and efficiently.

"Our research active macular unit prides itself on offering patients the opportunity to get involved in research that could one day improve treatment options for themselves or the wider community."

Professor Rupert Bourne, National Specialty Lead for Ophthalmology for the NIHR Clinical Research Network, commented:

"This is a great achievement and highlights how the UK’s eye research teams have remained active and indeed opened new studies for delivery of novel retinal treatments throughout the COVID crisis.

"Unlike cataract, glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration which have seen a reduction in global blindness rates over the last few decades, blindness secondary to diabetes has actually increased, further emphasising the importance of research into its prevention."

The study aims to recruit 122 patients in countries across Europe and the USA. Participants will be asked to attend the study site eight times during a period of about six months.

Being the first to recruit a patient in a trial is a key performance indicator as it shows the CRN North West London and its partners can support the rapid set-up and recruitment of studies.