Shiva Muthiah, Director of UK Operations for Velocity, smiles as she recalls the triumph of a teenage patient battling a painful eczema skin condition. “He used to wear long sleeves and other clothing designed to hide the marks on his skin, but almost immediately after beginning treatment in our clinical trial, the improvement was dramatic that he began wearing short-sleeved shirts and shorts for the first time,” Shiva says. “It was truly life changing for him, his confidence and his life,” she says, “and he was happy for the first time [in a long time].”
Shiva and the team have been active in two recent studies working to treat skin conditions. In the first, they recruited sixteen patients beginning in late 2020 and into early 2021. In the second, they enrolled 12 patients for a psoriasis study during a tight one-month deadline beginning in February 2023.
For the eczema trial beginning in November 2020, “we had the highest recruiting site in the United Kingdom.” The secrets to their success? “Experience and relationships with patients,” Shiva says. Clinical trials are at their most effective when the practitioner establishes a high level of trust with the patient.
For example, in Shiva’s second eczema trial beginning this year, several of the patients they recruited came from the first eczema study. “We built bridges of trust between our team and the patients,” Shiva says. “They knew they were in good hands with us.”
The second eczema trial is still ongoing. “We were one of only three sites to be activated in the UK,” Shiva recalls. She’s also excited that the patient group is very diverse — with almost half of the trial participants being non-white. Shiva believes a diverse patient population is vital to elevating clinical trial performance and says that this study further suggests her team is building trust with a wider array of people.
“We’re very excited about what the future holds and how we may be able to help improve the lives of people suffering from skin conditions,” Shiva said. “Eczema and other skin conditions are not viewed as life threatening and can sometimes be underestimated.”
Eczema and other skin afflictions are an area of particular interest to her because of the impact they have on mental wellbeing. “People with moderate to severe conditions can get depressed and even suicidal,” Shiva says. “It’s amazing to be part the clinical trial work that helps them live richer lives. It feels wonderful to be part of the work that brings new treatments to patients to help them live their lives with more confidence and enthusiasm.”