Gold Coast a new Australian hub for clinical trials

From Phase 1 human trials for a Malaria vaccine, to studies aimed at treating osteoporosis and researchinto life-saving stroke treatment, the Gold Coast Health & Knowledge Precinct is fast gaining a reputation as a leading location for clinical trials.

The trial of a malaria vaccine developed by Griffith University’s Institute for Glycomics’ Professor Michael Good could potentially save millions of lives and is the most well-known study to date, but a variety of trials occurring across both the Gold Coast University Hospital (GCUH) and the university offer the promise of exciting innovations targeting a diversity of diseases and health conditions.

The Gold Coast community benefits with patient access to the latest treatments.

Within the advanced tertiary hospital setting of Gold Coast University Hospital, trials occur across a range of specialities, involving inpatients and outpatients.

Neurologist Dr Arman Sabet has been involved in ten clinical trials, with a primary focus on improving treatment for stroke and other neurological conditions. Dr Hal Rice has been working with a new flow diversion device to treat intercranial aneurysms. Gold Coast Health led the way as the top global contributor to the safety and efficacy standards for this device.

Groundbreaking trial

Dr Sabet is particularly proud of Gold Coast Health’s participation in a ground-breaking clot retrieval international trial that has had positive treatment implications for Ischemic stroke worldwide.

“The trials are making a significant difference in outcomes for stroke patients — both in innovation to enable better treatment and recovery, and in follow-up medication to prevent future strokes,” Dr Sabet said.

“We have access to a large pool of patients that we can draw upon for these studies, including in an acute hospital setting, and we have the facilities and an environment of support for research.

“We also have the ease of collaboration with Griffith University.”

Griffith University’s Clinical Trials Unit was recently established as a purpose built core Research Infrastructure Facility to the university.

Already the unit has seen growth in the number of trials, interest from researchers, collaborators from Gold Coast Health and private clinicians, and anumber of commercial opportunities with pharmaceutical, biotech, nutraceutical and complementary medicine companies.

Clinical Trials Unit Director Associate Professor Evelin Tiralongo said the unit offered GCP compliant facilities for small Phase 1 trials, which focus on the earliest stage of human testing of new drugs or treatment protocols, to Phase 4 trials, which follow-up on the efficacy of new and existing therapies and medications.

“We have a 3 bed procedure room with emergency and IV infusion equipment, 6 consultation rooms, a study coordinator room with 10 workspaces and a phlebotomy room with centrifuges to spin blood samples, and a specialised drug preparation and storage room,” Associate Professor Tiralongo said.

We are undertaking trials which focus on outpatients and greatly value the close proximity to the GCUH, which makes it easy to collaborate with clinicians and other staff.

Various academics conduct their clinical projects in the unit including researchers from the National Centre for Neuroimmunology and Emerging Diseases and from Griffith’s Menzies Health Institute Queensland, some of whom are currently investigating new treatment options for allergic rhinitis.

In addition, pharma trials are run by the unit’s experienced study coordinators, with osteoarthritis and Alzheimer trials currently underway.

Trials span the full spectrum including randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled multi-centre studies.

Ausbiotech Qld committee member and General Manager of Griffith University’s Institute for Glycomics, Dr Chris Davis, said the rapidly expanding Gold Coast Health and Knowledge Precinct with its emerging strong clinical trial capability would quickly become a global destination for clinical trial business.

“The Precinct will quickly become a new benchmark for conducting trials in Australia,” Dr Davis said.