Figure 21: Working Together to Save Lives.
Future progress against cancer will require the
dedicated commitment of many individuals,
including academic scientists and clinical
researchers from a wide variety of specialties
(microscope), citizen advocates and
philanthropic organizations (megaphone),
government (U.S. Capitol), regulatory agencies
(FDA symbol), biotechnology and
pharmaceutical industries (pills), physicians
(stethoscope), diagnostics companies
(notepad), funding agencies and philanthropic
organizations (NIH building) and payers
(health insurance card). Central to
transformative advances against cancer
are the patients and survivors themselves.
collaboration, which refers to the sharing of research findings that
have traditionally been considered proprietary commercial assets
(e.g., genomic data sets or clinical trial comparator arm data)
between financially distinct companies, organizations and
institutions; see Sidebar on Public-Private Partnerships, p. 78).
Equally important are academia-industry collaborations and public-private partnerships, such as the Structural Genomics Consortium,
an open-access database of the structures of biomedically relevant
proteins that includes several large pharmaceutical companies
among its members and financial backers. To encourage more
cooperation of this nature across the sectors, it will be necessary to
provide support and encouragement, such as tax incentives,
funding and/or policy changes, to those who actively participate.
Effective collaborations between regulators and those involved in
the drug development process are also required to speed the
delivery of new treatment approaches to patients with cancer.
Among the many issues that must be resolved in the near future are
regulatory policies and incentives that allow multiple companies to
test investigational targeted agents as therapeutic combinations in a
single clinical trial. Although these efforts have begun and several
companies are moving forward in a collaborative testing of this
nature, many obstacles remain to be addressed. The rapid pace of
innovation in cancer science and medicine requires that there be
ongoing, robust communications between the FDA and the scientific
American Association for Cancer Research
community. This is essential to ensure the seamless integration of
science into the regulatory process.
Improved Approaches to Clinical Trials
Clinical trials are a central component of cancer research, as they
are the only way for therapies that show promise in laboratory
studies to be translated into treatments that extend and improve
the lives of cancer patients (see Fig. 7, p. 25). It typically takes
many years for cancer clinical trials to determine the safety and
efficacy of a particular treatment. If we are to accelerate this
process for the benefit of cancer patients, all stakeholders (Fig. 21)
must work together to overcome the obstacles that are preventing
the conduct of faster, more efficient clinical cancer trials.
Low participation in clinical trials by adult cancer patients leads to
delays in completion or even trial termination, which is a major
hurdle that all clinical trials must be address. In fact, fewer than 5%
of adults diagnosed with cancer participate in a clinical trial,
Fewer than 5% of adult cancer
patients participate in clinical trials.