The Gold Coast is surging as a destination for clinical trials and the Gold Coast Health and Knowledge Precinct is central to the action, boasting the city’s strongest concentration of clinical trials capabilities across three institutions: Gold Coast University Hospital, Gold Coast Private Hospital and Griffith University’s Clinical Trial Unit (pictured right).
Professor Evelin Tiralongo, Director of Griffith University’s Clinical Trial Unit, is excited about the future of GCHKP clinical trials after a doubling of her unit’s capacity in the past 18 months.
“Over the past 18 months our unit has doubled its business turnover and staffing, significantly increasing our capacity and capabilities,” says Professor Tiralongo. “We achieved the top recruiting site in Australia for a cardiology trial and were the first site globally to recruit for a rheumatology trial, highlighting our expertise on both the national and international scene.”
GCHKP’s trials surge proves correct the optimistic predictions from a 2019 study of the Gold Coast’s clinical trials sector, which found that the city was the largest regional centre in Australia for clinical trials and was experiencing 32% growth, and which forecast that the rate of growth would far exceed the national average over the following five years.
The study indicated that by 2029, employment in clinical trials was expected to generate $33.1m per year for the city’s economy.
“With the three GCHKP institutions involved in trials, and the Precinct’s growing medtech and startup offerings, GCHKP is emerging as an important translational and biomedical research and industry hub,” says Professor Tiralongo.
A TRACK RECORD OF COMMERCIAL SUCCESS
Griffith’s Clinical Trial Unit comprises state-of-the-art facilities for Phases 1b to IV trials across various disease states and runs pharmacokinetic and medical device studies, as well as healthy volunteer trials.
With a track record of >50 successfully conducted clinical trials for mostly global pharma, the Unit is known as a major player in clinical research far beyond the precinct and the Gold Coast.
“Providing high-quality trial site services to national and global companies is core business for us. I’m so proud that we have established ourselves on the national and international stage as a sought-after location for clinical research and business,” says Professor Tiralongo.
As a Core Research Facility to the university, the unit has provided a platform for staff successes in clinical research and has fostered academic-clinician collaboration and academic-industry partnerships.
“It is great to see that the unit will be advancing on this path as a vital partner for the newly established $280 million Translational Science Hub, a research initiative between Sanofi, the Queensland Government, Griffith University and the University of Queensland,” says Professor Tiralongo.
The Unit’s success, she says, is ultimately due to hard work, a vision and collaborating with others. Having the clinical support from a wide network of clinicians, including General Practitioners (GPs) and specialists from the private and public sector is essential to the Unit’s activities.
“My staff and I are passionate about advancing healthcare choices and patient care.”
“The more we work together with others, especially within the Precinct, the more capacity we will ultimately have in bringing further clinical trials as treatment options to the Gold Coast and global community.”
CLINICAL TRIALS, CLINICAL CARE
The neighbouring Gold Coast Private Hospital conducts Phase 1b to IV trials and currently has 11 trials underway in oncology, neurology, orthopedic surgery, nephrology and endocrinology.
Gold Coast Health also runs clinical trials within GCHKP at Gold Coast University Hospital, integrating trial supervision into routine hospital care for better patient outcomes, an aim of the National Clinical Trials Governance Framework.
GCUH is currently managing 47 trials, involving 562 patients across 24 clinical departments, and has recently recruited the first patient in Australia to participate in a multinational Phase III trial of a new treatment for myasthenia gravis.
Gold Coast Health Neurology Staff Specialist Dr Arman Sabet (pictured left) says the trial is evaluating the efficacy of the nipocalimab antibody compared to a placebo.
“This is a multinational clinical trial, and I am proud to say that we have been successful in screening and recruiting the first patient in Australia,” says Dr Sabet.
All three GCHKP trials providers will conduct site visits alongside the upcoming AusBiotech conference in Brisbane in November. Check with each unit for details.