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Drug trial at UHCW could help ease back pain

University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust (UHCW) is undertaking a world-leading drug trial that could bring relief to sufferers of back pain.

UHCW is conducting its first commercial phase one clinical trial, testing an injectable antibiotic formulation (PP353) for chronic low back pain (CLBP) caused by bacterial infection.

Just three people have tried the drug, which is delivered directly into the spine via injection.

Scot Harris, who has suffered with CLBP for five years, volunteered for the trial at UHCW – and the early signs are promising.

“The pain has dramatically reduced,” said Scot, 44. “I can go swimming again and lead a more normal life that people take for granted. But for me they are blessings.

“I would like children one day but what I didn’t want to be was one of those fathers who can only do so much because you are so debilitated by the pain.”

Pharmaceutical company Persica is running the trial through the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Coventry and Warwickshire Clinical Research Facility (CRF), based at University Hospital, Coventry, and the NIHR Lancashire Clinical Research Facility at the Royal Preston Hospital. The NIHR is a major funder of global health research and training.

Professor Chris Imray, Director of Coventry NIHR CRF, said: “This is the latest step in our ongoing quest to offer early phase research opportunities to our patients.

“Complex studies like this can only be delivered through a real team effort and we have to thank everyone who is making this study happen here; especially the staff in theatres, Ward 53, Pharmacy and Radiology.”

Several studies have shown prolonged use of oral antibiotics can be more effective in relieving CLBP due to infection than best practice medical or surgical care.

However, prolonged oral antibiotic therapy can lead to unwanted side effects and increases the chance of developing antibiotic resistance.

PP353 offers a more effective delivery method, reducing systemic exposure and the likelihood of gastrointestinal side effects.

Steve Ruston, Chief Executive Officer of Persica Pharmaceuticals, said: “We believe PP353 has the potential to deliver benefit to millions of patients suffering from CLBP.”

Scot must visit for check-ups once a month for the next year, when the results of the trial will be analysed.

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