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New cancer clinical trial model promises to cut costs and development time

Published on 15/05/18 at 10:18am

Researchers from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center have been developing and testing a new model for the better design and operation of clinical trials into the treatment of cancerous tumours.

The new model differs from a current methodology that is seen to in many cases keep costs unnecessarily high and development times long through the use of external Contract Research Organizations (CROs). The use of these CROs means that clinical trials are often designed with restrictive patient eligibility guidelines and often follow a one-drug, one-cancer approach.

The new approach facilitates faster development, cheaper execution and allows for multiple trials across a range of cancer types, leveraging more than 50 research partnerships through MD Anderson’s Strategic Industry Ventures Group.

The team have piloted the new model via a multi-study research programme between MD Anderson and pharma firm Bristol-Myers Squibb, with a focus on leukaemia. The collaboration has already seen a number of simultaneous studies on a range of immunotherapy combinations in the treatment of chronic lymphocytic and acute and chronic myeloid forms of the condition, as well as myelodysplastic syndrome, including the first “triplet” immunotherapy study into the disease.

Specifically, the use of the model has allowed for application of BMS’ pipeline in a number of different blood malignancies while allowing trial access for high-risk patients who would normally be excluded, as well as the provision of a set level of funding across all trials, rather than on a trial-by-trial basis.

"This cancer research model is flexible and modifiable according to existing needs because it does not pretend to create a 'one-size-fits-all' approach," said Dr Hagop Kantarjian, Chair of Leukemia at MD Anderson Cancer Center. "These types of alliances have significant variations that accommodate the partnering drug company - its drug pipeline, research needs, financial benefits and other considerations."

Dr Ferran Prat, Senior Vice President for Research Administration and Industry Relations at MD Anderson, also remarked: "The success of this initiative has resulted in program expansion in a number of directions. BMS extended the programme to other clinical and research departments at MD Anderson, and is partnering with other academic cancer treatment institutions. Our Leukemia department and other MD Anderson programmes have also established similar alliances with leading drug industry partners."

Matt Fellows

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