In January, the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) announced funding for the Accelerating Clinical Trials (ACT) Canada Consortium, which will improve Canada’s ability to conduct clinical trials for therapies that could have a positive impact on health outcomes for Canadians.
ACT brings together hundreds of researchers over 28 networks, 11 clinical trial units, Patient Partners, members of the biotechnology industry, government, and other experts. Diabetes Action Canada will be involved through its participation in the Diabetes Clinical Trial Network, led by Dr. Hertzel Gerstein (Deputy Director of the Population Health Research Institute at McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences).
The ACT Consortium, explains Gerstein, will help move clinical trials forward faster and more effectively. “It was recognized that there is a tremendous amount of clinical trial expertise in this country. A lot of it is in different parts of Canada, and we may not be interacting with each other as much as would be optimal.” ACT will help facilitate interactions and collaborations and accelerate the process of moving trials forward.
The Diabetes Clinical Trial Network includes diabetes clinical trial researchers from across the country. One of its members is Dr. Gary Lewis, who represents not only his own work as a clinical trialist, but the work of Diabetes Action Canada. Lewis will help ensure the role of Patient Partnership for diabetes-related clinical trials that may be facilitated by this network. .
“Patient engagement is an important part of the whole ACT Consortium for all disease areas, and the patient expertise related to diabetes is already in Diabetes Action Canada,” says Gerstein. “If this consortium is successful, then at the end of the day there will be a robust network of clinical trial units and research networks that start to work together, and that are supporting and doing high impact clinical trials, both Canadian and international. The involvement of patient expertise through groups like Diabetes Action Canada will ensure there is patient input into both the design and the knowledge mobilization that comes after the trials are finished.”
The entire concept is one that Gerstein thinks will make a real difference in how Canadian organizations conduct and manage clinical trials, which will have positive outcomes on people living with diabetes and other health conditions. “The premise of this is to make a bigger impact with trials for both patients and providers. I think the exciting part is that it will hopefully develop into a robust, growing infrastructure that will facilitate clinical trials in all disease areas.”