On 6 December 2017, the University of Oxford’s Oxford Clinical Trials Research Unit (OCTRU) celebrated five years of highlights and successes. OCTRU gives trials access to a robust quality assurance framework, a fantastic training programme for all members of a trials team, IT infrastructure to support efficient trials, and a skilled team of statisticians. The result? OCTRU has been assessed as one of the best performing academic clinical trials units in the UK for three years in a row.
OCTRU is well-placed to lead the way in creativity, innovation and excellence. - Prof Sallie Lamb
OCTRU is the result of a collaboration between six existing Oxford clinical trials units. The central OCTRU ‘hub’, based in NDORMS, supports teams in five speciality themes that focus on cancer, trauma, rehabilitation, rheumatology, and surgery research.
Just how good are the clinical trials here at the University of Oxford? Dr Ben Goldacre of the EBM DataLab, who gave an invited lecture on the state of trials across the UK and beyond, confirmed that we’re doing rather well. The University of Oxford consistently appears in the upper ranks of Dr Goldacre’s Trials Trackers, which measure elements of good trial conduct like trial registration and publishing the trial results.
Good conduct is great, but it isn’t enough. As Professor Matt Costa of the OCTRU trauma trials theme said, “Our trials need to change clinical practice. They need to benefit patients.” Each element of OCTRU is achieving just that. For example, the statistician team has developed skills in adaptive trials, which allow trials to be stopped early for lack of efficacy or high toxicity. Participants don’t join a trial destined to show no efficacy, saving their time. The trauma team’s DRAFFT trial has changed the way surgeons deal with wrist fractures and has already saved the NHS £2 million. And the cancer team focuses on cancers of unmet need, looking at treatments for rare cancers that affect small groups of patients.
With over £31 million in funded trials in just five years, OCTRU has proven the success of its integrative support model for clinical trials. Director Professor Sallie Lamb said “We have laid the foundation of an excellent infrastructure and collegiate working environment. I am immensely proud and impressed by the achievements of everyone working in OCTRU. Trials are challenging to design and complete, but I have no doubt that OCTRU is well-placed to lead the way in creativity, innovation and excellence.”