How APT guidelines can help prepare for future pandemics

February 21, 2024

New federal funding will support an Upstream Lab project to study Adaptive Platform Trials (APTs) related to COVID-19 and help prepare for future pandemics.

COVID-19 showed the importance of fast and effective ways to study potential treatments. Drs. Benita Hosseini and Andrew Pinto are leading a research team to develop guidelines for setting up APTs more efficiently, whether for other diseases or future pandemics.

The research team secured a $100K grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The one-year funding will allow them to evaluate COVID-19 trials to understand the challenges, lessons learned, and results achieved amidst the pandemic.

APTs are designed to test multiple treatments at once without needing to start additional trials when new evidence becomes available. Researchers can add or drop treatments over the course of the APT, saving time and costs compared to traditional methods.

The research team will study three APTs related to COVID-19—TOGETHER, PANORAMIC, and REMAP-CAP—to identify better ways to plan, recruit participants, and run trials. The goal is to create practical guidance that other researchers can use during future health emergencies.

Scientists and health organizations are preparing for the next pandemic. By creating guidelines for APTs, this project will assist in advancing quicker methods to find treatments that work. “We envision using our proposed APT guideline to develop a learning healthcare system approach beyond COVID to identify effective treatments for other health emergencies,” wrote the research team, which includes Drs. Christopher Butler, Paul Little, John Marshall, Edward Mills, and Jay Park.

The research team has extensive experience in designing and implementing APTs. Drs. Pinto and Hosseini are leading the CanTreatCOVID study, looking for treatments to ease COVID-19 symptoms and prevent long COVID. Drs. Mills and Park are investigating whether medicines for other conditions could help treat COVID-19 through the TOGETHER trial. Dr. Marshall is leading the REMAP-CAP trial in Canada, which explores treatment options for community-acquired pneumonia. Meanwhile, in the UK, Drs. Butler and Little are lead figures in PANORAMIC, a national trial investigating early COVID-19 treatments.

This project will be based at the Upstream Lab, MAP Centre for Urban Health Solutions, St. Michael’s Hospital and will partner with networks at McMaster University and the Primary Health Care Clinical Trials Unit, University of Oxford.

Collaborating with stakeholders from different fields and institutions will contribute to the dissemination and uptake of the APT guidelines. Projects like this promote partnership and knowledge advancement in preparing for the next pandemic.


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