New organisation promises smart clinical trials for better health 

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Protas, a non-profit organisation which was launched on January 24, will design and deliver large, inclusive, randomised clinical trials, working in collaboration with industry partners, medical charities, patient groups, academic researchers, and frontline clinical teams. Sanofi is its first strategic partner. 

Outlook 

By combining randomised trial design with effective technology and a collaborative approach, Protas aims to encourage the development of better treatments for conditions such as heart, lung and respiratory disease, arthritis, cancer, depression and dementia, and thereby improve patient care and public health outcomes.  

 By conducting high-quality trials at low costs, Protas hopes to “radically readjust the economics of late-stage randomised clinical trials”. According to the company, this will create opportunities for efficient clinical development of new treatments for common and other life-threatening diseases and provide benefits for patients and the health systems that care for them. 

Protas leadership 

Professor Sir Martin Landray, an epidemiologist and physician who has over 20 years’ experience of leading large, randomised clinical trials as part of a team at Oxford University’s Nuffield Department of Population Health, will lead Protas. Most recently, he has been leading the landmark RECOVERY clinical trial into treatments for Covid-19 which identified that treatment with the inexpensive steroid drug, dexamethasone, improved the chances of survival for the most severe cases. 

Official comments 

Professor Sir Martin Landray, Chief Executive of Protas, said: “As we have seen during the recent pandemic, large randomised clinical trials are critical for the proper assessment of possible treatments. The situation is not unique to the pandemic; there are many other common and other life-threatening diseases – for example heart, lung and respiratory disease, arthritis, cancer, depression and dementia – where better treatments are needed to reduce the huge burden on patients and the NHS. But these trials need to be large, involve a diverse range of individuals, and produce robust answers to the most important questions.” 

Dietmar Berger, Chief Medical Officer and Global Head of Development, Sanofi, said: “With this collaboration, we are taking a bold step to significantly reduce the cost of some of our clinical trials, focusing on what matters the most for patients, doctors, regulators and payers. In addition to a proven expertise, Protas offers a unique opportunity to anchor clinical research at the heart of patient care across the NHS, making participation as easy as possible and ensuring all health and care staff feel empowered to support research.” 

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