Leaders chart the path for more clinical trials

Researchers, regulators, and experts from the medical industry gathered for the tenth year to share knowledge and exchange experiences on advancing the medical field through translational research

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Ashraf Habib 2019

For the tenth year since its launch in 2009, King Abdullah International Medical Research Center (KAIMRC) held its Annual Forum for Medical Research under the theme ‘Improving healthcare through high standard clinical trials,’ a strong KAIMRC push over the past few years.

Held under the auspices of Prince Abdullah bin Bandar bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the minister of the National Guard, the two-day event was from November 25-26, 2019 at the King Saud University for Health Sciences (KSAU-HS) in Riyadh. Scientists, officials, industry experts and other stakeholders from around the world took part in eight sessions chaired by international and local panelists, and 100 research papers were submitted for poster sessions.

This year’s event coincided with the launch of the National Command Center for Clinical Trials (NCCCT) pioneered by KAIMRC to develop clinical trials in the kingdom, which is why the forum highlighted the need to advance clinical trials as the cornerstone of expanding the pharmaceutical industry in Saudi Arabia and attracting global giants to the kingdom to localize biotech and biopharma industries. Participants agreed that advancing clinical trials and pharmaceuticals is key to provide the Saudi population with treatment tailored to their genetic characteristics and the needs of the population. 

The forum discussed how this target can be reached, with panelists sharing experiences and international best practices. Some of the recommendations were for specialized research that would benefit the surrounding community. Speakers suggested raising awareness of the importance of participating in clinical trials and fostering a culture of collaboration with international partners. Panelists also discussed how the process of translating research from bench to bedside must be streamlined and emphasized the importance of collaborating with regulatory bodies to ensure speed, as well as safety and quality.

Another highlight of the forum was innovation in clinical trials and healthcare, and the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and data management in the biomedical field. The experts discussed how AI can revolutionize the healthcare industry, ensuring a better service for patients, as well as increasing efficiency. 

Before the event concluded with a ceremony awarding KAIMRC’s most renowned scientists, the last session discussed the success story of KAIMRC holding the first phase I clinical trial in Saudi Arabia. The trial, which started last December, tests the efficacy and safety of a potential vaccine against the coronavirus that causes the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) ChAdOX1. KAIMRC developed the vaccine in collaboration with the University of Oxford. 

Several memoranda of understanding (MoU) were signed to collaborate with key international partners. KAIMRC has signed a MoU with Seoul University in Korea to collaborate on clinical trials, and GL Rapha, a Korean pharmaceutical company, to collaborate on drug development. The center also signed MoUs with the Saudi Health Council and the Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA) to collaborate on research and share data and knowledge. KAIMRC also formally agreed to collaborate with the Saudi Technology Development and Investment Company (TAQNIA), an engineering and informational technology company, to collaborate on marketing and selling services and products KAIMRC provides, as well as offer logistical services, support and consultancy, and technical support. Finally, KAIMRC signed a memorandum with the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture to collaborate on research and exchange expertise and knowledge for public health research. Their collaboration also covers research on infectious and viral diseases, as well as expanding KAIMRC’s biobank. 

Panelists at this year’s forum included a range of speakers from KAIMRC’s top researchers, to experts from various industries and academia. The panels featured speakers from Seoul National University Hospital (SNUH) and the UK’s Medicine and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) as well as several biotechnology giants like Moleculin Biotech, as well as leaders of pharmaceuticals, biopharmaceutical and biotechnology companies like AB Science, Amgen, AstraZeneca and GE Healthcare. The event also featured a panel of experts from Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) to discuss the economics of research and development in the health and pharma sectors.

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