New clinical trials on under-researched topics

© Tom Werner

The SNSF is funding nine clinical trials with 17.2 million francs on topics from behavioural therapy for people with mental illness to wearable medical devices in palliative care.

When can pneumonia be treated without antibiotics? Medical questions like this one are typically outside the industry focus but are of value to society. That is why the SNSF has been funding outstanding clinical trials on under-researched topics since 2016.

The SNSF received 28 applications in the 2021 call for proposals for the Investigator Initiated Clinical Trials (IICT) programme. It is now funding nine of them for a total of 17.2 million francs. The researchers will conduct their clinical trials for four to five years. Between 150 and 900 patients will be recruited per project.

The nine funded projects

Christoph Berger, University Children’s Hospital Zurich: Are antibiotics essential in treating lung infections in children? A novel test to detect the most common causes could provide an answer.

David Blum, University Hospital Zurich: Could wearable medical devices help seriously ill patients in palliative care better manage their care at home and reduce hospital stays?

Elisabeth Kappos, University Hospital Basel: Treatment for breast cancer can cause water to accumulate in tissue. A novel surgical technique may hold the cure.

Christoph Nissen, Inselspital Bern/Geneva University Hospitals: Can a self-administered behavioural therapy programme help patients with mental illness to sleep better?

Isabelle Schmitt-Opitz, University Hospital Zurich: Lung cancer is one of the most common causes of death. Could a combination of medication and surgery improve survival and quality of life?

Arseny Sokolov, Lausanne University Hospital: Could a combination of physical training and thinking exercises in the form of video games increase the cognitive abilities of patients with multiple sclerosis?

Sven Streit, Bern Institute of Primary Health Care: Gastric acid blockers are used to relieve heartburn and treat reflux. Might it be possible to reduce or even stop them?

Gilles Olivier Wandeler, Inselspital Bern: The older generation of HIV drugs can lead to life-threatening drug interactions when used to treat concomitant disease. Could a combination of novel drugs prevent this problem?

Özgür Yaldizli, University Hospital Basel: Personalised medicine holds the hope of improving treatment of multiple sclerosis. But how many and which drugs are needed to suppress the disease while ensuring the patient’s well-being?

Patient participation

For the second time, four patients participated in selecting the best projects. “What we tried a year ago is now standard practice,” says Deborah Studer, the IICT programme manager. “Once again, we have seen how useful and helpful it is to include the patient’s perspective. These four panel members ensure that the selected research projects adequately address the needs of patients.”

Since 2016, the SNSF has funded a total of 44 clinical trials. The next call is already under way, and researchers indicated their intention to participate in May 2022. Applications must be submitted by 1 November 2022.