Last week saw over thirty Year 12 students and their teachers from Liverpool Life Sciences University Technical College (UTC) and Calderstones School visit LSTM for International Clinical Trials Day on the 20th May.
The Accelerator Research Clinic (ARC) hosted an open day for International Clinical Trials Day which allowed visitors to explore the work of Liverpool Vaccine Group, LSTM’s citizen science Swab and Send project and the Research Centre for Drugs and Diagnostics and how the public are at the centre of their research.
Importantly, the students learnt about the ARC’s current clinical trials on Pneumococcus, bacteria that has the potential to cause pneumonia, sepsis and meningitis. Approx. 1 in 10 healthy adults carry these bacteria in their nose without any symptoms, this is called colonisation. There are over 90 strains of pneumococcal bacteria, vaccines cannot include them all therefore they include the most common strains. Some strains of the bacteria are continuing to cause disease despite being included in current pneumonia vaccines, this is called vaccine escape. The team are investigating vaccine escape and testing current pneumonia vaccines to determine which vaccine offers more protection against colonisation in the nose.The students engaged with several hands-on interactive demonstrations including guessing the number of Eppendorf tubes contained in a jar, learning how to undergo safe donning and doffing of gloves and other PPE, and hand washing when working with viruses such as SARS-CoV-2. In addition, the visitors were given a bronchoscopy demonstration using a respiratory model, a technique that involves passing a small camera through the nose or mouth, into the lungs to allow exploration of a patient’s lungs and airways.
Amy Collins, ARC’s Marketing and Public Engagement Officer said “Here at ARC we rely on the generosity of the public to give their time and samples to our study. Recruitment is a never-ending task, without our volunteers we couldn’t do the research. We screen, vaccinate, inoculate and take samples at the clinic, that’s the ‘public facing’ part of the trial. Upstairs the microbiology lab are processing and analysing behind the scenes, producing data that could help us improve vaccines and save lives. International clinical trials day gave us the perfect opportunity to bring the teams together, display the work being done and give something back to the community. We not only wanted to expose the students to science in a real-world environment but also introduce them to a range of different career possibilities within research. The visitors were totally engaged in the activities and asked lots of relevant questions. I hope we have inspired the next generation of researchers.”
John Dyer, Lead Teacher for Science Innovation, said “Wow, what a fantastic morning at Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine to find out about the process of clinical trials. Our Liverpool Life Sciences UTC year 12 students loved finding out about the history of clinical trials, the research and vaccine trials that go on at LSTM and taking part in the great range of activities that helped them to understand more including having a go at bronchoscopy, microscopy, identifying bacterial cultures on plates, learning about the swab and send programme and culminating in them competing to see who could most accurately throw a sack into a model nostril! The staff and students loved it and it really enriched the students’ curriculum studies and exposed them to the range of careers and opportunities available at LSTM.”
ARC need volunteers aged 18-50 years old in the Merseyside area. If you would like to be part of the Pneumo 2 study to help us fight pneumonia. Please register your interest here.
Participants will be paid for their time and inconvenience.