Our Trial Talk Podcast aims to explore how the work we carry at the MRC Clinical Trials Unit at UCL is contributing to improving health in the UK and around the world. 

 

Trial Talk is back with a new series for 2024.

Each month, we hear from world-leading experts about the studies we carry out. We dive into trials on cancer, infections and neurodegenerative diseases; explore how public and patient involvement is shaping our studies; and discover new ways to run smarter clinical trials. 

Listen now on your favourite podcast app. We are on Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Spotify and SoundCloud.

In the first episode of our new Trial Talk series, Hanif Esmail and Conor Tweed take over the microphones to interview Andrew Nunn and Sarah Meredith, who have both recently retired from the Unit, having spent a combined total of 92 years working in the field of tuberculosis (TB).

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UKCTOCS (UK Collaborative Trial of Ovarian Cancer Screening) is one of the largest screening trials in ovarian cancer. More than 200,000 women from England, Wales and Northern Ireland took part in it, and it ran for almost two decades. Designing and running such a large and lengthy trial came with its own challenges. In this episode, Professor Usha Menon discusses the key challenges that UKCTOCS faced in its design, conduct an analysis, and how the team addressed them.

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Clinical trial results usually tell us how effective a treatment was on average for the overall group of participants, but a key question for clinicians, patients and policy makers is: which individual patients benefit most from the treatment and which don’t benefit as much?

In the latest episode of the Trial Talk podcast, Peter Godolphin and David Fisher discuss a new method for determining how treatment effects differ between subgroups of patients across multiple clinical trials, as well as how other meta-analysis researchers can use it.

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Check out earlier episodes from our previous series below.

More than 50% of people living with cancer that need radiotherapy in low- and middle-income countries can't have it. Ajay Aggarwal presents the ARCHERY study, an exciting trial looking at the benefits of using artificial intelligence (AI) for radiotherapy treatment planning, which could improve access to high quality cancer treatment globally.

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Clinical trials depend on people volunteering to take part, often at increased risk or inconvenience. Research shows that most trial participants want to know what the trial finds, but many never get to find this out. Annabelle South talks about why sharing results is important and how the Show RESPECT study tested different ways of sharing results with participants.

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We have an ethical obligation to offer results to trial participants. Annabelle South explores the challenges of sharing results and talks about the best ways of communicating results from an ovarian cancer trial. As a final note, Annabelle reflects on what should be the next steps to ensure that all trial participants find out about the results.

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For World TB Day, this episode explores the global burden of tuberculosis (TB) and how growing antibiotic resistance can complicate treatment options. Andrew Nunn, a Professor of Epidemiology, discusses his work on the STREAM2 trial, which investigated how treatment for multi-drug resistant TB could be shortened and made more acceptable for patients.

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214,000 newborn babies die of sepsis caused by infections that are resistant to antibiotics every year. This is a major problem worldwide, but disproportionally affects low- and middle- income countries. Reenu Thomas and Adrie Bekker, two neonatologists from South Africa, and Francesca Schiavone, Clinical Project Manager at the MRC CTU at UCL in London, discuss the challenges of treating neonatal sepsis and present the results from an observational study (NeoOBS), which assessed mortality rates of babies with sepsis.

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Neonatal sepsis is a life-threatening infection that affects up to 3 million babies per year globally. In an effort to identify better treatments, the NeoSep1 clinical trial evaluates new antibiotic combinations for newborn babies with sepsis. To learn more about the trial, we speak to Adrie Bekker and Cristina Obiero, Principal Investigators of the trial in South Africa and Kenya, Reenu Thomas, a neonatologist from South Africa, and Francesca Schiavone, the Clinical Project Manager of the NeoSep1 trial in London.

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Running a clinical trial means collecting a lot of data from the trial participants. But some of this data might be collected and stored in healthcare systems, as well as in clinical trial case report forms. What if we could avoid this doubling up, save time and resources, improve recruitment and reduce missing data? In this episode we explore the opportunities and challenges of using healthcare systems data in clinical trials with Dr Macey Murray and Professor Matt Sydes, two trials methodology researchers from the MRC CTU at UCL.

Immunotherapy drugs fight cancer by helping the immune system recognise and attack cancer cells. These drugs have revolutionised cancer treatment over the last decade, improving survival for many people with different types of cancer. However, researchers are still unsure of the best way to give immunotherapy, which can come with unpredictable side effects. In this episode, Clinical Fellow Sophie Merrick discusses how the REFINE trial hopes to address this problem, by testing if giving immunotherapy less frequently can still treat the cancer effectively, whilst improving the quality of life for patients, reducing side effects and costs.

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STAMPEDE is a long-running trial in advanced prostate cancer, in which nearly 12,000 men have taken part. Thanks to its multi-arm multi-stage platform design, STAMPEDE has tested many different treatments and directly led to improvements in the standard of prostate cancer care several times.

This Trial Talk podcast mini-series explores the trial’s journey from its inception in the early 2000s to the end of patient recruitment in March 2023.

Part 1 covers the landscape of prostate cancer treatment before STAMPEDE, as well how the trial was designed, featuring two researchers who lead the methodological and clinical sides of the trial: Max Parmar, Professor of Medical Statistics and Epidemiology and Director of the MRC Clinical Trials Unit at UCL and UCL's Institute of Clinical Trials and Methodology, and Nick James, Professor of Prostate and Bladder Cancer Research at the Institute of Cancer Research.

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STAMPEDE is a long-running trial in advanced prostate cancer, in which nearly 12,000 men have taken part. Thanks to its multi-arm multi-stage platform design, STAMPEDE has tested many different treatments and directly led to improvements in the standard of prostate cancer care several times.

This Trial Talk podcast mini-series explores the trial’s journey from its inception in the early 2000s to the end of patient recruitment in March 2023.

Part 2 is about patient and public involvement (PPI) in the trial. David Matheson, a Reader at the University of Wolverhampton and STAMPEDE patient representative, shares his insight into the work this entails and why it is so important to champion the voices of patients. We also hear about PPI from the perspective of trial researchers, Max Parmar and Nick James.

Access the transcript.

Listen on Soundcloud.

STAMPEDE is a long-running trial in advanced prostate cancer, in which nearly 12,000 men have taken part. Thanks to its multi-arm multi-stage platform design, STAMPEDE has tested many different treatments and directly led to improvements in the standard of prostate cancer care several times.

This Trial Talk podcast mini-series explores the trial’s journey from its inception in the early 2000s to the end of patient recruitment in March 2023.

In the final part, Max Parmar and Nick James look back over the trial’s impact on clinical practice and platform trial design, and look forward to STAMPEDE2, sharing their hopes for the future of prostate cancer research.

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Innovative platform designs present an opportunity to run faster and more efficient clinical trials. Clinical trial methodology is a research area that looks at how to improve the design, conduct, and analysis of clinical trials. It focuses on developing and implementing new methods to help run trials faster and more efficiently, which will ultimately accelerate the discovery of new treatments. In this episode, methodologist Matteo Quartagno tells us about a new clinical trial design called MAMS-ROCI. It is a type of multi-arm multi-stage design that compares a range of different treatment durations, doses or frequencies to identify the optimal one.

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Octopus is a new clinical trial for people living with progressive multiple sclerosis (MS), which is designed and run by the MRC CTU at UCL. Thanks to its multi-arm multi-stage platform design, Octopus has the potential to transform the way treatments for progressive MS are tested. The trial is now open in the UK and will be recruiting participants for the next few years.

The podcast mini-series will explore the trial from different perspectives by talking to neurologists, MS experts and people affected by MS.

The first episode covers the treatment and research landscape of MS and the challenges of treating progressive MS. It features Jeremy Chataway, neurologist at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery at UCLH, Professor of Neurology at UCL, and co-lead of the Neurodegenerative Diseases programme at the MRC CTU at UCL, who is leading the Octopus trial. We also hear from Dawn Lyle, Lead Research MS Nurse, and Matthew Justin, MS Specialist, who are based at the Anne Rowling Regenerative Neurologic Clinic in Edinburgh.

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Octopus is a new clinical trial for people living with progressive multiple sclerosis (MS), which is designed and run by the MRC CTU at UCL. Thanks to its multi-arm multi-stage platform design, Octopus has the potential to transform the way treatments for progressive MS are tested. The trial is now open in the UK and will be recruiting participants for the next few years. 

The podcast mini-series will explore the trial from different perspectives by talking to neurologists, MS experts and people affected by MS. 

Part 2 of the series explores the Octopus trial in depth. Professor Jeremy Chataway, lead investigator of Octopus, discusses its novel design, the treatments it will test, and the criteria for people to take part. He also explains the data researchers will collect and analyse to find out if a treatment is working.

Access the transcript.

Listen on SoundCloud.

Octopus is a new clinical trial for people living with progressive multiple sclerosis (MS), which is designed and run by the MRC CTU at UCL. Thanks to its multi-arm multi-stage platform design, Octopus has the potential to transform the way treatments for progressive MS are tested. The trial is now open in the UK and will be recruiting participants for the next few years.

The podcast mini-series will explore the trial from different perspectives by talking to neurologists, MS experts and people affected by MS.

In Part 3, MS experts Dawn Lyle and Matthew Justin walk us through the journey that trial participants take when taking part in Octopus, from how to register your interest in the trial, to what to expect on your first visit.

Access the transcript.

Listen on SoundCloud.

Octopus is a new clinical trial for people living with progressive multiple sclerosis (MS), which is designed and run by the MRC CTU at UCL. Thanks to its multi-arm multi-stage platform design, Octopus has the potential to transform the way treatments for progressive MS are tested. The trial is now open in the UK and will be recruiting participants for the next few years.

The podcast mini-series will explore the trial from different perspectives by talking to neurologists, MS experts and people affected by MS.

In the final part, we explore the role of people affected by MS in the Octopus trial. Susan Scott, a pharmaceutical publications specialist and Octopus patient representative, shares her involvement in the trial and explains how PPI has benefited Octopus so far  

Access the transcript.

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Every year on 1st December, we mark World AIDS Day to show solidarity in the fight against HIV and AIDS, and to remember those who have sadly lost their lives.

Since the start of the global AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, researchers have made enormous progress towards preventing HIV transmission, and treating those who are living with HIV so that the virus remains suppressed. But while there have been marked improvements for adults, treatment coverage in children and adolescents is lagging behind.

In the first of our World AIDS Day episodes, Dr Anna Turkova, Clinical Principal Research Fellow at the MRC Clinical Trials Unit at UCL, and Philippa Musoke, Professor of Paediatrics and Child Health at Makerere University, explore the reasons for these disparities and how the MRC CTU at UCL is working to close the gap between adults and children through clinical trials.

Access the transcript.

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Every year on 1st December, we mark World AIDS Day to show solidarity in the fight against HIV and AIDS, and to remember those who have sadly lost their lives.

Since the start of the global AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, researchers have made enormous progress towards preventing HIV transmission, and treating those who are living with HIV so that the virus remains suppressed. But while there have been marked improvements for adults, treatment coverage in children and adolescents is lagging behind.

In the second of our World AIDS Day episodes, we highlight the important role that young people living with HIV play in research, by shaping clinical trials to better serve the needs of their community.

This episode features Lungile Jafta, who works closely with young people through Penta’s youth engagement programmes, and Gugu, a former Youth Trials Board member from South Africa who is living with HIV.

Access the transcript.

 

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