Joint Research Office


Key Covid-19 trial set up in under a day

30 April 2020

Staff at the Joint Research Office have succeeded in setting set up a Covid-19 research study in just a matter of hours – a process that can be protracted because of how complex studies can be.

News that Roche UK had the all clear from Roche global HQ to open the trial at UCLH arrived late on Friday evening (24th April) and the study documents followed on the Saturday morning. By Saturday evening the contracts were ready for signature, paving the way for study drug to be delivered at UCLH. The first patient at UCLH was dosed on Wednesday 29th April.

Staff worked on contracts and finances, getting regulatory and ethical approval and putting in place governance arrangements to process the COVACTA study, led by Dr Claire Roddie, looking at whether tocilizumab developed by Roche can dampen the overactive immune response seen in some Covid-19 patients.

It is the first ‘immunomodulatory’ study in Covid-19 to open at UCLH – a treatment approach thought to be promising by UCLH front line clinicians who have been treating Covid-19 patients.

Arpita Shivmani, Head of Research Contracts at the JRO, said: “This was an exciting opportunity for the Trust and certainly an important one for COVID research. The fact that it was the weekend didn’t matter, we just wanted this study to begin on time. So we reviewed the contracts on Saturday morning and by late evening finalised it for signatures. It was the quickest we have turned around a contract of this value and it couldn’t have been for a better cause.”

Dr Nick McNally, Managing Director of Research at UCLH, said: “I want to pay tribute to the commitment and dedication shown by the JRO since the outbreak of the pandemic. It is astonishing that this study was turned around in such a short space of time. The dedication they have shown has been critical to all the research we have been able to do at this time.”