Extensive screening is required when clinical trials in colorectal cancer (CRC) are conducted. CRCs have different molecular profiles, and it is of interest to be able to design treatments for these molecular subtypes. The SPECTAcolor screening platform for patients with advanced colorectal cancer aims to increase the chance for these patients to access clinical trials with new molecularly defined approaches in the network of the EORTC Gastrointestinal Cancer Group. Patients across Europe will be given the opportunity to be registered in a database and their tissue screened for colorectal cancer markers.
“The aim is to try to move things forward for patients with advanced colorectal cancer by systematically screening for the biomarkers we know to be relevant for ongoing trials or soon to be opened trials,” explains Sabine Tejpar, Chair of the EORTC Translational Research Advisory Committee and one of the principal investigator of SPECTAcolor. “It’s a bit like a matchmaking service linking patients up to clinical trials according to individual molecular profiles. We want to enable more patients to get to the clinical trials that are directly relevant to the characteristics of their cancers.”
SPECTAcolor is funded by €5 million ‘seed’ money from a corporate social responsibility initiative of Alliance Boots, an international pharmacy-led health and beauty company. “In the future, we hope that the project will be self-funding, with Pharma paying a finding fee for each patient recruited into their trials,” says Professor Tejpar. “By introducing an efficient infrastructure we hope to dramatically decrease the costs of screening large populations of patients, which should ease both the economic and logistical pressures on sponsors of new studies”. It should help overcome one of the biggest challenges facing targeted trials, which is to recruit enough patients with the desired genetic changes.”
“This builds up a new unique structure for further improvement of treatment in colorectal cancer and is an example for a new structure of collaborative research. The enthusiastic support of the EORTC Charitable Trust, many GI group members and the EORTC staff contributed to this new opportunity for clinical research.” said Dr. Gunnar Folprecht, one of the initiators and principal investigators of SPECTAcolor. While starting first in colorectal cancer, it is hoped that the concept could eventually be extended to other cancers.
About the EORTC
The EORTC is a unique organization – a vibrant example of the fact that academic science and research know no national boundaries. Established in 1962, the EORTC is a non-profit European research organization operating as an international association under Belgian law.
The EORTC currently links a network of more than 2,500 pre-clinical scientists and oncologists in more than 300 hospitals in over 30 countries. It encompasses all aspects of cancer research, from translational research and new drug development to large phase III clinical trials and meta-analyses.
The 170 members of the EORTC Headquarters staff handle some 6,000 new patients enrolled each year in cancer clinical trials, approximately 30 protocols that are permanently open to patient entry, over 50,000 patients who are in follow-up, and a database of more than 180,000 patients.
The ultimate goal of the EORTC is to improve the future of cancer therapy by developing new agents and innovative approaches and to test more effective treatment strategies using commercially available drugs, or surgery and radiotherapy.
EORTC, Medical Science Writer
On behalf of the EORTC Gastrointestinal Tract Cancer Group