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Haematology

The NIHR is the nation's largest funder of health and care research and provides the people, facilities and technology that enable research to thrive. We work in partnership with the NHS, universities, local government, other research funders (including industry and charities), patients and the public to improve the health and wealth of the nation.    

In 2017-18, the NIHR spent £1.1 million on research studies into blood disorders. The NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN) supported 147 studies on haematology, 52 of which were new studies, and recruited 6,332 patients to studies last year (2018/19).  

Gene therapy for haemophilia

A new gene therapy that has been trialled at the NIHR Imperial Clinical Research Facility could be the first step towards a cure for haemophilia.

People with haemophilia A, the most common type of haemophilia, have a genetic defect that means they do not produce a clotting factor called exogenous factor VIII. In this trial a new therapy that replaces the faulty genes to increase levels of factor VIII was tested in people with severe haemophilia A.

Six of the seven people who received a high dose of the new therapy experienced an increase in factor VIII to normal levels and fewer bleeding events, an effect that was still present a year after the therapy dose.

Investigating how often people can give blood

Currently in the UK women can give blood every 12 weeks and men every 16 weeks. A study jointly funded by the NIHR Blood and Transplant Research Unit in Donor Health and Genomics and NHS Blood and Transplant has found that giving blood more frequently – up to every 8 weeks for men and every 12 weeks for women – has no major side effects and could help to increase blood stocks, according to recent research.

The results showed that over a two-year period, allowing donors to give blood more frequently boosted the supply of blood to the NHS without having a major impact on their health. The team also found that donors with higher initial stores of iron were able to give more blood, suggesting that better screening methods should be sought to detect low haemoglobin in potential donors.

Find a haematology study in your area

You can find out more about haematology studies in your areas through the Be Part of Research website.

The NIHR provides researchers with the practical support they need to make clinical studies happen in the NHS. We provide world-class health service infrastructure - research support staff such as clinical research nurses, and research support services such as pharmacy, pathology and radiology - to support organisations seeking to conduct clinical research in the NHS in England. Some of this research is funded by the NIHR, but most of it is funded by NHS non-commercial partners and industry. We also support the set up and delivery of clinical research in the NHS through our Study Support Service and our Research Design Service helps researchers develop proposals to secure funding from our research programmes.

The Haematology specialty is one of over 30 specialties which bring together communities of clinical practice to provide national networks of research expertise. Our membership is made up of research-interested clinicians and practitioners at both national and local levels. Our job is to ensure that haematology studies receive the right support to ensure they are delivered successfully in the NHS.

We oversee research that deals with blood disorders. By this we mean conditions and diseases that affect how the blood and its components work. Haemophilia is one example (an inherited condition that affects the blood’s ability to clot and stop bleeding). Sickle-cell disease is another example (a genetic defect which affects the structure and shape of the blood cells so that it can’t carry oxygen as well as normal cells). Other examples include thrombotic disorders (where the blood clots too much), and anaemia.

We support and promote research in the following areas:

We currently support studies (in both adults and children) investigating:

  • clotting factor concentrates
  • anticoagulants
  • therapies for immune thrombocytopenia purpura (ITP)
  • therapies for iron overload in haemoglobinopathies
  • innovative iron replacement therapies

Blood disorders can have an impact on other parts of the body. Where our research portfolio overlaps with other specialty areas we work closely with our colleagues from across the Network to deliver high quality haematology research

Haematology Clinical Specialty Leads

The Clinical Research Network is made up of 15 localities. Each one has at least one nominated local lead for haematology research. These clinicians lead research groups to promote and support haematology research within the NHS Trusts in their area.

At a national level the local leads come together to manage the national haematology research portfolio overall. This involves regularly reviewing the progress of studies, identifying barriers to recruitment, and coming up with solutions and strategies to help overcome those barriers.

HaemSTAR

HaemSTAR is a UK-wide network of passionate Clinical Haematology registrars supported by the NIHR. The primary aim of HaemSTAR is to promote clinical research into Non-Malignant Haematology.

We aim to do this by:

  • Increasing participation in non-malignant haematology clinical trials across the UK
  • Enabling efficient transition of worthy local audits to the national scale in order to give their results more significance
  • Creating Chief Investigators of the future by developing our own national studies in alignment with NIHR research priorities
  • Increasing exposure for registrars to NHS Research and Development departments and the NIHR to develop investigator skills which are currently not part of the haematology registrar training curriculum

Contacting Us

If you are interested in becoming a HaemSTAR lead or participating as a co-investigator, please contact the national HaemSTAR lead Pip Nicolson on p.nicolson@bham.ac.uk

For more information, visit the HaemSTAR website

Specialty profile

Read more about NIHR haematology in our specialty profile.

The NIHR Haematology specialty group works closely with these organisations in integrating clinical research into NHS clinical service provision, and in driving priority setting that encourages research that will have the greatest impact on patients.  

National Haemophilia Database

We collaborate with the National Haemophilia Database which maintains a record of patients with bleeding disorders within the UK. This enables us to advise on the incidence of bleeding disorders within the country as well as the location of patients around the country. Such information is anonymised, but can aid in the feasibility assessment of new commercial studies investigating novel therapies in this patient group. We are happy to informally advise our commercial partners about aspects of study design within the UK, particularly regarding patient numbers and the likely location of patients within the UK.

Haematology Charities and Organisations

NHS Blood and Transplant

The NIHR partners with NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) on four NIHR Blood and Transplant Research Units (BTRUs).

The BTRUs are research partnerships between universities and NHSBT for research to improve the supply of blood, blood products, stem cells and tissues, and organs for transplantation.

The NIHR provides the support and facilities the NHS needs for first-class research by funding a range of infrastructure.

Biomedical Research Centres

NIHR Biomedical Research Centres (BRCs), partnerships between England’s leading NHS organisations and universities, conduct translational research to transform scientific breakthroughs into life-saving treatments for patients with haematological conditions. The following BRCs undertake haematology research:

NIHR Medtech and In vitro diagnostics Co-operatives

NIHR Medtech and In vitro diagnostics Co-operatives (MICs) build expertise and capacity in the NHS to develop new medical technologies and provide evidence on commercially-supplied in vitro diagnostic tests. The following MIC undertakes research in haematology:

NIHR Blood and Transplant Research Units

NIHR Blood and Transplant Research Units (BTRUs) are research partnerships between universities and NHS Blood & Transplant (NHSBT). The following BTRUs undertake haematology research:

Work with our infrastructure

All of the NIHR facilities and centres are opening to working with the public, charities, industry and other partners. If you are interested in collaborating with the NIHR please contact the NIHR Office for Clinical Research infrastructure: nocri@nihr.ac.uk 

Our experts in the NIHR Clinical Research Network (National Specialty Leads) can give advice on delivering your haematology study in the NHS.

The National Specialty Leads provide leadership on clinical studies in conditions, and act as a key clinical ambassador for these conditions within the specialty.

Professor Cheng-Hock Toh

Cheng-Hock is the NIHR Clinical Research Network Specialty National Lead for Haematology.

He is the Professor and Clinical Director of Haematology at the University of Liverpool and the Royal Liverpool & Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust.

Cheng-Hock is the incoming President of the British Society of Haematology (April 2018) and is also on the Royal College of Physicians’ Research and Academic Committee as well as for Clinical Commissioning. At the international level, he chaired the European Hematology Association Curriculum Committee (2012-17) and was President of the International Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis Scientific Standardization Committee 2012 Meeting.

His research interests focus on improving outcome for critically ill patients through understanding the dynamics within the microcirculation. His discoveries have led to 5 granted patents and a spin-out diagnostics company to translate his research into patient benefit

E: c.h.toh@liverpool.ac.uk 

Related Specialties

Ageing

Children and Young People

Genomics and Rare Diseases

Infection

Respiratory Disorders

 

Latest news about Haematology

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Latest blogs about Haematology

Blog: Increasing diversity in design to accelerate research into practice

Researcher at computer applying for NIHR funding
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