February 2021: Continuing a clinical trial during COVID-19

Feb 3, 2021, 00:00 AM by Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT)

Dr. Abbey Berenson, Director of The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Women’s Health, was conducting an active CPRIT-supported clinical trial when UTMB paused enrollment for all clinical trials on March 19, 2020. Most research labs also closed in response to Galveston County’s “stay at home order." Her randomized controlled clinical trial, funded by a $1.5 million Individual Investigator Research Award for Prevention and Early Detection, compares the effectiveness of two doses vs. three doses of the HPV vaccine in older teenagers and young adults (RP190022).

Nurse giving vaccine through open car windowIt was critical to the study’s outcome to continue time-sensitive follow-up patient visits, vaccinations, and blood draws during the shutdown. Dr. Berenson developed a continuation plan, which UTMB approved, that included patient visits in two designated clinics and curbside vaccinations to minimize exposure. As a result, nearly 300 study visits took place between March 2 and September 30. When UTMB allowed researchers to resume enrolling new participants on May 29, Dr. Berenson’s study enrolled 87 more trial participants through September 30.

Dr. Berenson anticipates that the information learned from the study may simplify the standard three dose HPV vaccine schedule, which would increase the likelihood of completing the series and reduce the number of people who will develop HPV-related cancers.

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Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Women's Health
John Sealy Annex, Suite 3.108
University of Texas Medical Branch
Galveston, TX 77555-0587
Office: (409) 772-2417
Email: Abbey Berenson, MD, PhD

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