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Clinical trials give patients hope of a better life

Posted on Tuesday 17th May 2016
Joanna Poulter, research nurse (left), Sam Short and Emma Glass (research nurse)

Joanna Poulter, research nurse (left), Sam Short and Emma Glass (research nurse)

Six-year-old Sam Short is one of many Guy’s and St Thomas’ patients taking part in clinical trials to try out the latest treatments.

The Trust and its partners, the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Centreand King’s College London, are showcasing the range of trials on offer to patients on International Clinical Trials Day (Friday 20 May).

Sam has achondroplasia (also known as dwarfism) and is taking part in a clinical trial at the Evelina London Children’s Hospital on the St Thomas’ site.

Sam’s mum, Jenn, says: “I had a completely normal pregnancy and I didn’t think there was anything to be worried about. When Sam was born he had the tell-tale signs of the condition which is ‘trident hands’ (short stubby fingers with a separation between the middle and ring fingers) but he was quite long so the doctors didn’t know what was wrong. Eventually he was diagnosed with achondroplasia.

“Thankfully Sam is an extroverted, intelligent, healthy little boy and he’s never had to have an operation or be in hospital, other than for monitoring his health. But when we heard that Evelina London has an achondroplasia clinic, we asked for Sam to be referred.

“I’ve thought about the challenges Sam will face as he gets older. Will he be able to do the things his older sister and younger brother can do? So when our consultant, Dr Melita Irving, told us about the trial we jumped at the chance.

“Sam took part in the initial measurement trial which looked at the way he was growing. Now he has moved on to the drug trial where he takes one injection every day to help him grow faster.

“The team at Evelina London have been amazing. Sam comes to the clinic once a month and has lots of checks like X-rays, blood tests and scans, and his sleep is also monitored. The two research nurses, Emma Glass and Jo Poulter, co-ordinate everything so well. Sam and I even get time to go on trips to the London Aquarium, watch street performers by the Thames, or go to Sam’s favourite sandwich bar in between the tests.
“People have started to notice that Sam is standing straighter and he’s grown four centimetres in six months compared to three centimetres in the whole of last year. Obviously it’s too early to say whether it’s down to the trial but any extra help has to be a good thing. We are taking part in the trial because we want to give Sam any extra advantage we can.”

To find out more about clinical trials at Guy’s and St Thomas’ and how you can take part visit information stalls at St Thomas’, Guy’s, and Evelina London on 20 May.