Date: 14 September 2017
Geographic atrophy (GA) is an advanced form of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and in the UK, it is the most common cause of irreversible vision loss in the over-50s. Despite this, its true impact on patients, caregivers and society, are yet to be fully understood.
A new study conducted at Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust together with a number of other sites across three European countries, has taken a closer look at the healthcare costs associated with geographic atrophy and, crucially, the effect it can have on patients’ lives. It also examines the important influence on the people caring for those with the disease.
Led by Praveen Patel, Consultant Ophthalmologist and Chief Investigator, the study; ‘Burden of Illness in Geographic Atrophy’, opened at Moorfields in February this year. The non-interventional study ran across England, Germany and Ireland. The team at Moorfields are well practised in running research studies and their experience made for proficient patient recruitment to the trial. The team were delighted to recruit the first patient globally and through continued efforts, became the highest recruiting site in the UK. Such were their accomplishments, the rapid recruitment then enabled the trial to close early in the UK.
The teams’ success, has also led the commercial sponsors for the study, Roche / Genentech, to feature Mr Patel in their local publication for researchers, sharing advice on effective patient recruitment. Mr Patel says of their achievements;
“I worked closely with the study sponsor, the clinical research organisation, the study team at Moorfields Eye Hospital and the team at the Clinical Research Network (CRN) North Thames, to make sure we set up the study rapidly at Moorfields and this was the key to recruiting the first patient globally”.
Mr Patel is consultant Ophthalmologist in the Medical Retina service at Moorfields Eye Hospital and one of the lead clinicians for later phase clinical trials in retinal disease. He is also ophthalmology speciality lead at CRN North Thames, who were the Lead CRN for this study. He has been working in research as a Principal Investigator in clinical trials for the past 10 years, but as Chief investigator (CI) for this study was involved at every step;
“As CIs we are enmeshed in the research; from finalising the study protocol through to delivering the trial and assessing progress of the study at other sites globally”.
Mr Patel ascribes much of the teams’ success to the willingness of patients to take part and believes this can be attributed to the importance of the study:
“One of the things I was struck by is how keen our patients were to take part in the study. A large part of this enthusiasm is that patients are eager themselves to better understand the impact of the disease in all aspects of their own lives and they see this as an important and valuable thing to investigate and report through the study”.
Geographic atrophy affects over 5 million people worldwide. Characterised by the loss of healthy light-sensitive cells in the centre of the retina, the light detecting layer at the back of the eye, it is estimated to account for 26% of blindness in the UK. This study will help to assess the clinical detail and quality of life of patients with advanced Geographic Atrophy, with the hope of addressing the key issues in future.
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