Trialling discoveries to deliver better treatments

Friday 20 May 2022

Queenslanders are being urged to get more involved in progressing medical research by signing up for hospital-led clinical trials.

This International Clinical Trials Day, Friday 20 May 2022, Mater is shining a light on the more than 200 clinical trials being run through Mater Research and Mater Hospitals that aim to improve the health of Queenslanders.

Mater Clinical Trials Unit Manager, Dr Julie Cichero said clinical trials are essential for translating scientific discoveries into patient benefits.

“Clinical trials are a vital step in progressing potential vaccines and preventative measures to reduce the risk of illness and disease and in offering new treatments and hope for sick Queenslanders,” she said.

“High quality clinical trials are the only way to establish the safety and efficacy of new medications, interventions and diagnostic tests that have been developed in laboratories before they are introduced into clinical practice.

“Treatments that we take for granted today, such as the polio vaccine and more recently COVID-19 vaccines, flu vaccines and cutting-edge cancer treatments have been through robust clinical trials.  We live better and longer lives because of treatments that have been through the clinical trial process.

Dr Cichero said all Mater clinical trials go through a rigorous research ethics and research governance review to ensure the studies are of the highest standard and participants’ interests are prioritised.

“Clinical trials are offered to ensure that our patients have access to the latest investigational therapies or techniques and are provided with treatment options that they may not otherwise be able to get.

She said Mater’s extensive hospital network and expert clinicians gave it an advantage in helping drive medical advances through clinical trials.

“Our trials are led by motivated clinicians and supported by passionate clinical trial research coordinators and nurses who are driven to find better ways of treating patients,” she said.

“Our Clinical Trials Unit supports trials across Mater Research’s program areas ranging from chronic and integrated care to cancer, and neuroscience, through to mother and baby health.

“We’re proud to already be working closely with industry sponsors and expert collaborators to bring new and cutting-edge treatments to people in need. We also welcome new possibilities and collaborations.”

When Vanessa Julius was invited to join the clinical trial of a drug aimed at reducing the risk of high blood pressure in pregnancy, she didn’t hesitate to sign up.

“It was an easy decision because I’ve had long term hypertension which makes me high risk for developing the pregnancy-related blood pressure condition - pre-eclampsia.” said Ms Julius, who is in the second trimester of her pregnancy.

“I also had a preterm delivery with my first child, so I welcomed being involved in anything that could potentially reduce my risk with this baby.”

Ms Julius was identified at her 12-week pregnancy scan as high risk for developing preeclampsia and was invited to join the ESPRESSO clinical trial being led by Dr Glenn Gardener and conducted through Mater Mothers’ Hospital.

The ESPRESSO Clinical trial is investigating if the anti-reflux medication esomeprazole can help prevent or control pre-eclampsia in pregnancy. The Phase II trial will report on the drug’s safety and tolerability and pave the way for a more widescale trial of the efficacy of the drug.

Director of the Mater Centre for Maternal Fetal Medicine, Dr Glenn Gardener said Mater was well positioned to progress better health for mothers and babies through clinical trials.

“As one of Australia’s largest and most experienced maternity service providers, Mater Mothers’ Hospitals understand the importance of being at the forefront of maternal care and we are always investigating the best treatments and care that we can provide to the thousands of mothers and newborns we see each year,” Dr Gardener said.

“Medical research is driving huge advancements in our understanding of health, and clinical trials such as the ESPRESSO trial are a way to safely and rigorously test potential new treatments and models of care.”

Mater is involved in more than 200 Phase I to IV investigator-led and Industry-sponsored clinical trials.

People interested in joining a Mater-led clinical trial can contact the Mater Clinical Trials Unit on