With a strong interest in bringing new therapies to New Zealand, Southern Clinical Trials Group is excited about its relocation to the stylish new Forté 2 building, centrally located adjacent to the Forté Hospital at 132 Peterborough Street. This purpose-built medical facility enables the group to continue its valuable contribution to advancing medical knowledge and patient care.
In a clinical trial, human participants receive specific interventions or treatment according to the research plan or protocol. Participant safety is always paramount, Southern Clinical Trials Group Medical Director, Dr Simon Carson says.
Before conducting a clinical trial in New Zealand, approval must first be obtained from an Independent Ethics Committee. In New Zealand this is a centralised function conducted by one of the five Health and Disability Ethics committees. All the parties involved with the development and testing of the study medication must follow the study protocol, as well as a specific set of international guidelines called Good Clinical Practice (GCP). GCP puts participants’ rights, safety and welfare at the centre of the whole trial process.
All possible risks are advised beforehand and, before a clinical trial can begin for a treatment, medication, or device, it has to have already shown promising results in laboratory tests.
All trials have guidelines about who can participate and the criteria might include age, a specific medical condition and previous treatment history. For any participant in a clinical trial, the process begins with health checks from the team of health professionals, followed by specific instructions for using the treatment, medication or device.
The team monitors the participant throughout the trial. In some trials the participants can access new treatments before they are generally available. Director of Clinical Trials, Julia Mathieson, says participants are able to leave the trial at any stage before it is completed. Participants’ GPs are kept informed of their participation and any significant findings or results.
Southern Clinical Trials Group has four further privately owned clinical trial sites, so you don’t have to be Christchurch-based to participate. All are well equipped research units, staffed by experienced primary health care practitioners that have established relationships with specialists for the more complex studies.
If you are considering becoming a research volunteer, contact 03-337 1979, or you can add your name to the volunteer list online at www.sctrials.co.nz.
It’s safe to say that Christchurch has been leading the way when it comes to earthquake research, as we become determined to be an infrastructural world leader.
Now a University of Canterbury infrastructure engineering programme has been awarded $12 million investment funding from the MBIE Partnerships Scheme for a project titled ‘Infrastructure Systems Engineered for Improved Value and Resilience’.
Led by UC Quake Centre director Dr Robert Finch, with UC’s Ada Rutherford, Professor of Architectural Engineering Larry Bellamy as the Science Leader, the project’s purpose is to transform the building and construction industry so that it leads the world in digital design and construction methods, material and manufacturing technologies, and construction systems.
UC Quake Centre director Dr Finch says the sector is internationally competitive, enhances the wealth, resilience and wellbeing of New Zealand communities and supports higher levels of economic growth.
“It means both industry and Government can now work together to drive research outcomes that will change and improve the performance and affordability of infrastructure development in New Zealand over the long term,” he says.
“Ultimately this will contribute to wealth creation for the country and more resilient communities.”
Professor Bellamy says the aim is for commercialisation of new digital and material technologies to be under way within two years of the project ending, spawning a new manufacturing sector and significantly improving the productivity of the building industry.
“After five years, we expect leading firms will be utilising new building methods and technologies with direct financial benefits to New Zealand in the hundreds of millions each year.”
To a large extent, the longer life expectancy we enjoy owes to pioneers of modern medicine in our midst. Canterbury Medical Research Foundation is one of eight research organisations playing this vital role in New Zealand. It is second only to Auckland in size.
Focused on transitional science, to identify a very clear nexus between what’s being done in the field of research and the outcome for the patient, the real ethos of the foundation is around legacy – what it can do to make a better life for future generations and in turn, ensure less suffering for people with chronic illness and their families.
While trying to reduce the bureaucracy that frustrates so many in the field, the foundation’s assessment process for its research is no less rigorous than any other. “The key is that we are not just some faceless funding agency; we develop a meaningful relationship with those we support,” CEO Kate Russell says. “With the likes of the Universities of Canterbury and Otago, we feel a great deal of responsibility, friendship and goodwill towards them, because they are doing a brilliant job.”
An important part of Canterbury Medical Research Foundation’s remit focuses on health issues important to New Zealanders and those with a local relevance to Christchurch such as depression and anxiety, particularly post-quakes. “We also support the ADHD work of Dr Julia Rucklidge at University of Canterbury, Prof Frank Frizzell and his team working on colorectal research and so many others. The work of our own NZ Brain Research Institute is an important part of what we do.
“The Brain ‘Centre of Research Excellence’ (CoRE) that our institute participates in, has been given a very clear focus – to push the beginnings of cognitive decline out by five years. Most people, if they live long enough, will experience some level of cognitive decline, so if we can delay this, it affects the whole trajectory of the disease.”
One of the main reasons it exists is to fill a very important gap. “We are niche funders who commit to small and interesting projects to help them become large and interesting projects.
“The reason Professor Don Bevan started our foundation is because we have a huge hospital base here, a medical school and the University of Canterbury. We have a lot of lovely, young, bright minds fresh out of study with their PhD, and if they are not supported or given opportunities, they go overseas and we risk permanently losing that intellectual capital.”
With $1.6 million given away annually by Canterbury Medical Research Foundation and a goal to give away $2 million annually by 2020, Russell says the foundation wishes to sincerely thank all its generous donors.
“We have been so blessed in the generous bequests received. A lot of people think, ‘I don’t donate because surely they are only interested in big donors’, but actually, it is our hundreds and hundreds of small donors who give us what they can that helps us push our reserves up. There are a lot of worthy charities in New Zealand and we’re so thankful because the only reason we can do all of this is because of our generous community.”
Tomorrow – 16 March – Canterbury Medical Research Foundation is partnering with the Cancer Society for its annual Russley Golf Club Tournament. Also on the agenda this year, is its annual Wine and Art Auction where $100,000 is guaranteed to be raised to support a selected project. Applications for project funding have also just closed, so keep an eye out for further news.