COVID-19 drug testing platform AGILE receives government funding to fast-track clinical trials

News article 13 Feb 2021

The innovative COVID-19 drug testing platform AGILE, in which LSTM is a partner, has received a multi-million pound award from the UK government’s Department of Health and Social Care to fast track the clinical trials of innovative treatments against COVID-19.

The funding will help to facilitate the rapid progression of promising treatments through early phase trials in the UK that could permit new treatments to be available in months rather than years. 

AGILE’s international lead, LSTM’s Dr Tom Fletcher, said: “This is great news and a huge vote of confidence in the research conducted by the AGILE platform. It will enable us to test and evaluate several treatments in parallel. It will significantly speed up the process in a safe and responsible manner and ultimately benefit COVID-19 patients both in the UK and internationally with effective treatments.” 

The government funding, awarded by the Medical Research Council and co-funded through the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR), complements funding from the Wellcome Trust and UNITAID in addition to earlier funding announcements from industry.

The first patients were recruited into AGILE in September in partnership with Royal Liverpool University Hospital Clinical Research Unit and this new funding will allow AGILE’s activity to be expanded nationally. AGILE has been developed by Infectious Diseases clinicians, clinical and pre-clinical pharmacologists, clinical trials specialists and statisticians. The design of the AGILE clinical trials platform means that promising drugs that have been developed in laboratories around can be tested much more rapidly than when using conventional development pathways for new drugs, so that successful drugs can advance rapidly in later phase trials quickly enough to have an impact on the current pandemic.

AGILE is a collaboration by the University of Liverpool, LSTM, the University of Southampton's Clinical Trials UnitLancaster University and Liverpool University Foundation Hospitals Trust as well as other partners.