Dr Lennard Lee- Opinion Editorial (UK COVID/cancer clinical lead)

Since the pandemic, University of Oxford has asked me to guest lecture about my experiences in the pandemic response. Reflecting, it is clear to me that our country is now in a new phase of our national research infrastructure- the Hyperacceleration Era.

What I am talking about?

The United Kingdom has achieved in terms of the pandemic response. We delivered landmark studies in COVID-19 testing, hospital therapeutics and how to provide the best healthcare. We even showed the world within weeks that chemotherapy was safe to administer from this programme.

Trials like RECOVERY, Oxford vaccine studies, PANORAMIC, OCTAVE, ISARIC, QCOVID, ICNARC, UK coronavirus immunology consortium, UK COVID-surg, DHSC FALCON-Moonshot are pandemic studies have broken the mould of research, trials and infrastructure.

Hyperaccelerated studies include innovative components leading to a phenomenon of hyperacceleration. We can now expect trial completion within weeks-months. This is a significant shortening of clinical study pipelines.

These components include digital transformation, integration with NHS health care records, big data, transformed patient experience, significant efficiencies of consent/assessment/outcomes, innovative trial infrastructures, streamlined documentation, parallel approvals, virtual acceleration and real time analytics. There is a lot of exciting lessons and it is an exciting time.

The question is whether this has any applicability to cancer research?

I would say yes, but the lessons need time and people to disseminate across. I am fortunate in having the opportunity to deliver 5 of these hyperaccelerated studies. I know many other cancer researchers who have worked on COVID research and they have also learnt a lot. Talented clinical academics like ONCOVID and David James Pinato, Capture and SAMRA TURAJLIC, SOAP and Sheeba Irshad.

The onus is now on cancer researcher to transfer the lessons learnt from COVID research. If they do, hyperaccelerated trials are likely to bring about a whole new era of clinical benefit.

If realised, our UK Hyperaccelerated era will move us from concept to clinical care at a speed we haven’t seen before. This will transform patient outcomes for those with cancer. This is great news.

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