The number of people taking part in NHS clinical research studies sponsored by the life sciences industry has risen dramatically over the last year, show new figures by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

According to the data, the number of people participating in NIHR supported life sciences industry studies rose by 45 percent in the 2017/18 financial year - with the Institute helping to recruit 50,112 participants into commercial research studies within the NHS, primary care and other health settings across England.

This, the group says, means more patients are “gaining earlier access to potentially cutting edge new treatments while helping to answer important health questions”.

“Partnerships between the NHS and the life sciences industry bring a range of benefits to the healthcare sector - giving trusts access to new treatments and funding for health research, while also boosting the wider economy each year through the development of cutting edge medical innovations,” noted Dr Jonathan Sheffield chief executive of the NIHR Clinical Research Network.

Overall, more than 725,000 participants across the country signed up for clinical research studies supported by the NIHR in 2017/18 - including studies sponsored by pharmaceutical companies and those funded by NIHR, charities or other non-commercial organisations delivered in the NHS.

This is the highest number since records began in England and a significant increase of nearly 10 percent from the previous year, the NIHR said.

Also, the number of new health research studies being set up during the year was at its highest level yet, with the NIHR CRN pledging its support to 2,070 new studies over the course of 2017/18.

“Health research is the key to finding new and innovative cures, treatments and care for patients. Evidence also shows research active organisations consistently deliver better outcomes to all patients they treat, not just those involved in health research trials,” Sheffield said.