Cancer trials in much of the United Kingdom (UK) were put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This was the case as well at the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Center. However, now the preeminent research center, as part of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s recovery plan, has opened back up clinical trials, representing over 400 studies involving 10,000 patients. The Scottish group represents one of the first centers in the UK to restart clinical trials, about 140 of which are related to cancer research and include the first UK trial of tiragolumab, a cervical cancer drug under investigation. The states are big in the UK: clinical trials have led to a 10% reduction in deaths due to cancer over the past decade. COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns threaten such gains.
What is Beatson West Cancer Center?
Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Center (BWSCC) is a specialized cancer care center located in Glasgow, Scotland. Up until recently, it maintained facilities in Gartnavel General Hospital, the Western Infirmary, and Glasgow Royal Infirmary. However, now as part of the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Acute Services Review, this center is now centralized within new facilities at the Gartnavel General Hospital site.
A Novel Therapy Under Investigation
As reported recently by the Herald Scotland, BWSCC clinical trials are now re-initiating, including a study involving the drug known as tiragolumab. This therapy stimulates the body’s immune system to help it fight back against cancer, representing an approach shown to be effective against some other cancers such as melanoma. Developed by Roche, tiragolumab is a novel cancer immunotherapy designed to bind to TIGIT, an immune checkpoint protein expressed on immune cells.
Clinical Trials have Reduced the Cancer Death Rate in Scotland
All of this makes a real difference, as is evidenced by the outcomes in places like Scotland. Reports of progress in Scotland are significant, reports the Herald Scotland. Improvements in the UK and Scotland in particular are real as the risk of dying from cancer has declined by 10% over the past decade. This significant result was made possible by clinical trials in Scotland.
Risks Rise Again
However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, cancer patients face greater risks again. TrialSite reported that the UK Cancer Research charity warned in the Summer that a £150 million cut in research funding could reverse gains made over the past decade.
That’s why the research centers in the UK, such as BWSCC, are on the move to ramp back up. Professor Rob Jones, with Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Center, reported, “We were amongst the first in the UK to reopen trials as soon as it was safe to do so.”