Clinical translation and experimental medicine
Clinical translation using experimental medicine approaches is essential to fulfil the Institute's mission to use its discovery research to help in the development, testing and delivery of new therapies and treatments to address disease. Using both well-established and new patient groups, researchers at the Institute perform translational research and experimental medicine studies to discover and test new therapeutic targets and biomarkers, in diseases such as inflammatory arthritis, osteoarthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, fibrosis and certain types of cancer. As part of this approach, researchers use immune phenotyping and multiomic technologies to understand disease at the point that it starts, as it progresses, and in response to therapy at both the molecular and cellular level.
Our use of experimental approach aims to tackle one of the most common reasons for failure in drug development: a lack of validation of a drug target in patients. Experimental medicine uses innovative trial design in individuals with the disease to test a pathway of interest where the outcome measure is tissue based (typically molecular, cellular or imaging). While use of clinical endpoints (e.g. clinical disease assessment) is vital for drug/device registration, they require large, long studies. In contrast, experimental medicine studies require far fewer participants, provide proof of mechanism and target engagement, and also offer the ability to validate a target across several disease states simultaneously using Bayesian trial design.
Clinical translation is delivered through studies within individual research groups, and by a number of strategic programmes such as the Arthritis Therapy Acceleration Programme (A-TAP), the Centre for Osteoarthritis Pathogenesis Versus Arthritis, ORBIT Eye Network and the NIHR Oxford BRC. Clinical translation takes place in close collaboration with nearby research centres and clinical sites including the Botnar Research Centre, Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre and Translational Gastroenterology Unit, as well as other partner sites, including the Institute of Inflammation and Ageing at the University of Birmingham.