Issue 6 – October 2015

UK EORTC LIAISON OFFICE

By Liz Flackett 1, Karen Heasley 2 – EORTC Liaison Officers and EORTC HQ team 3
1NIHR CRN: Cancer, Leeds University, UK;  2CR-UK, Angel Building,  London, UK; 3EORTC HQ  International Policy  & Communication Offices, Brussels, BE

Table of content

Edito

Denis Lacombe portraitDear colleagues,

It is my great pleasure with this 6th edition of the newsletters to provide you with a few updates on the EORTC. First of all, let me thank for the efficient work performed by the liaison office contributing to the activities reported herewith. Facilitating interactions between you and the EORTC HQ, activating more trials in your country, improving communication through the liaison office  and hopefully simplifying your work are our major objectives.

2015 is a very special year in many ways. First of all, as of April 2015 I took over the position of EORTC Director General and would like to thank all the members of EORTC for the continuous support and trust.
I am confident together we can bring innovation to your patients. 

In June a new board and a new general assembly were elected, and their role and missions will be of utmost importance for the implementation of the EORTC scientific strategy and partnership deployment as explained  in previous newsletters and at many EORTC events.

Second, the EORTC portofolio of studies is back  to what it used to be some years ago. The organisation has overcome the challenges of the early 2010s which resulted in a temporary decrease of new projects. As of 2015, the organization has activated already 14 studies, from which 12 are in activation or already activated in your country; 13 more studies are currently in activation and we plan to have most of them open by December. With  currently 44 trials open to patient entry (from which 29  are active or under activation in your country) and more than 200 trials  in follow up in over 30 countries, the organization confirms its positioning as a unique multidisciplinary multi tumor pan-European academic clinical research infrastructure. 

We thank you for your important contribution as EORTC member and clinical trial investigator and hope recruitment will  be ahead of schedule so that patients can benefit from high quality research as soon and as much as possible. A special word towards national coordinators for their hard work, as without their support, the  activation of trials in United Kingdom  would not be possible in the current legal framework. 

Last, but not the least, new programs, completing our traditional agenda of clinical trials , such as SPECTA and survivorship are now blooming and provide to the organization new credit and visibility with new partners such as regulators and payers. Downstream outcomes of such positioning as the IBCD (Innovation in Biomarker and Cancer Drug Development) conference and new type of cooperation with commercial partners are early signs that comfort us in  our choices. Similarly new programs such as SURCARE, in partnership with ESSO, addressing quality assurance and infrastructure for surgery clinical research, reinforce the EORTC academic agenda.

The EORTC is certain to vigilantly monitor such progress due to a rapidly changing health care environment to which we always need to question how such an organization can contribute. We must ensure the patient centered mission the EORTC was given 53 years ago: to prolong survival and improve quality of life of cancer patients.

Sincerely,
Denis Lacombe
EORTC Director General

Portraits of EORTC key opinion leaders

bass-hassanProf. Bass Hassan, medical oncologist at Oxford University and Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust – Churchill Hospital

We recently had the opportunity to talk with Prof. Bass Hassan, Professor of Medical Oncology at Oxford University and T. O. Ogunlesi Senior Research Fellow at Lincoln College. He also serves as Consultant Medical Oncologist at the Oxford Cancer Centre and Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre. Prof. Hassan splits his time between running a basic science laboratory at the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology and treating patients with rare cancers of bone and soft tissue (sarcoma).  His research group is developing biomarkers for IGF driven cancers using combined genomic and proteomic approaches, including high content imaging of tumor tissue.

Prof. Hassan has been collaborating in several EU funded projects focusing on new tools for patient care and cure and technology of rare cancers. He is currently part of EUROSARC (European Clinical trials in Rare Sarcomas), a project aiming to design, structure and implement 9 innovative investigator driven clinical trials of different scales, on a multinational level, and evaluating novel treatment strategies. He is the Chief Investigator of a trial part of this program, LINES/ OCTO 038 / EORTC 1225, a phase II trial of Linsitinib for patients with relapsed and/or refractory Ewing Sarcoma.

He is deeply committed to research that may benefit patients and explains, “My research concerns genes and proteins that regulate both embryonic and tumor growth. We are in the process of developing novel therapeutic proteins with Cancer Research Technology and clinical trials with European Bone Sarcoma Centres.”

As member of the EORTC Soft Tissue and Bone Sarcoma Group, Prof. Hassan has kindly agreed to answer two additional questions.

Why did you become a member of the EORTC?

“I joined because European and EORTC iniatives are essential to develop advances in the diagnosis and treatment of sarcoma’s as important rare tumours. Collaboration and interaction at scale accelerates delivery of improvements, and keeps one up to date with interactions with colleagues to share ideas, and improve trials, projects and patient care.”

What is your vision for the field of oncology in the EU?

“My vision is more experimental medicine research and innovation in cancer. We can’t have too much of that. This tradition has been in the domain of investigator initiated experimental clinical studies. We desperately need to balance the commerical ambitions of companies with those of discovery and pre-competitive research. The latter fuel ideas and concepts, and the former actually supports delivery and impact of clinical studies that test these ideas. At present, the balance is wrong and away from trying to understand the mechanisms of response and resistance, especially for rare cancers, and the opportunity greater than ever because of new molecular technologies that are discovering and testing new pathways. Training and education in oncology that includes this type of research core activity is also being affected, such that the future oncologists have fewer opportunities to really understand and research the diseases they are treating, and instead have been channeled into traditional research domains and routine patient care following standard protocols. The diminishing number of investigator initiated studies directly incorporating bench and bedside to a high level, and the lack of experience developing the ideas that come from these, reflects the changes in public funding (reducing) and private and commercial objectives (drug sales), leaving significant gaps that will slow down our real world progress because the risks and diversity of projects are minimised. Anything and everything that stimulates a vision of innovation and addresses the diversity in oncology has my vote, and anyone with good sensible ideas in experimental oncology at the molecular level, should be supported to deliver these ideas in small empowering clinical studies that not only maintain but expand hypothesis testing in oncology in Europe.”

UK EORTC Liaison offices activity in 2015

Leeds Liaison Office update

The Leeds Office continues to play a major role in opening EORTC member studies in the UK and fully supports UK investigators throughout the process.

  • New studies opened!
    Within the last 12 months, the Liaison Office has opened 4 new EORTC studies in over 30 NHS Trusts across the UK. These studies investigate Brain, Sarcoma, Colorectal, Breast and Male Breast cancers. These are detailed in the recruitment status table below.
  • TAVAREC study now closed – successfully recruited brain study
    The TAVAREC study is a randomised trial assessing the significance of Bevacizumab in recurrent grade II and Grade III gliomas. The study has been open since 2011 and closed to recruitment on 9th July 2015. The study recruited exceptionally well in the UK, exceeding the target and significantly contributing to the global recruitment total (at over 20%, the third highest recruiting country). It is hoped that the study will be presented at the 2016 Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuro-Oncology (SNO) in Phoenix, Arizona.
    Thank you to all participating UK sites for their hard work!
  • Participant Information Improvement project
    The Liaison Office and NCRI Consumer Liaison Group (CLG) reference panel continue to work successfully together to review and improve EORTC Participant Information Sheets given to people in the UK participating in EORTC studies. The project was accepted for a poster presentation at the NCRI Cancer Conference in Liverpool in November 2014 demonstrating a model for systematic participant information review in an international setting. The poster was met with interest especially from patients and individual researchers looking to work with international groups.
    Download the poster.
    Thank you to all our volunteers!
  • Staff changes
    Nick Preston, Liaison Officer based in Leeds has now left the organisation and Liz Flackett is the contact for study issues and communications with the EORTC HQ.

London Liaison Office update

  • New Collaboration Pathways have been developed to address the lack of a single efficient mechanism to explore UK clinical trial collaboration with the EORTC and vice-versa.  They provide a high level overview of the key steps involved in determining whether EORTC/UK collaboration is viable, with the aim of obtaining a more timely response.  Alongside the pathways a confidentiality framework has been developed to protect against the sharing of study information outside of the collaboration discussions.  This framework forms the basis of a “conditions of use” agreement associated with utilising the Collaboration Pathways the details of which are sent on a study-by-study basis.
    Link out for further info:
    For further details please contact EORTC Liaison Officer:Karen.Heasley@cancerresearch.org.uk
    The developed collaboration pathways can be found below:
    Map for exploring UK Collaboration
    Map for exploring EORTC Collaboration
  • The appetite for EORTC/UK Collaboration has been confirmed with a total of 35 notifications received by the London EORTC Liaison Officer since March 2014 and June 2015.  The breadth of notification mechanisms is illustrated in the graph below.  Of the 35 studies, four are currently being taken forward to formal collaboration between the EORTC and a UK Research Group.

graph-lo-uk

EORTC trials portfolio and recruitment status in the UK

List of studies under activation, recruiting or recently closed in the UK (cut-off date: 15/09/2015)

International Rare Cancer Initiative (IRCI) – trials recruitment status

IRCI is a joint initiative established between Cancer Research UK (CRUK), the National Institute of Health Research Clinical Research Network: Cancer (NIHR CRN: Cancer), the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC), the Institut National Du Cancer (INCa) and the National Cancer Institute of Canada Clinical Trials Group (NCIC CTG).

The aim of this initiative is to facilitate the development of international clinical trials for patients with rare cancers in order to boost the progress of new treatments for these patients.

Currently 7 trials are in different stages of realisation. EORTC confirmed its participation or supports 6 trials and refused 1 (no interest from the network). From 6 trials currently active and supported by EORTC, 2 are led by EORTC, 2 are led by UK and 2 by US.

4 IRCI trials from 6 are part of the current EORTC portfolio. Two additional IRCI trials do not appear in the portfolio yet (one because EORTC HQ only provides operational support and one was stopped from performance in EU by the company).

Several new studies concepts remain under discussion.

What type of assistance is provided by UK Liaison Offices?

Leeds Liaison Office- EORTC led studies regulatory support

EORTC LO in Leeds is the national contact point to the UK investigators to provide guidance, practical information and assistance on all aspects of participation to EORTC studies. It mediates the collaboration and communication with EORTC HQs  staff  in charge of the study.

Leeds EORTC Liaison Officer performs regulatory submissions via IRAS system to the REC, global R&D and if required ARSAC, in collaboration with CI team and EORTC HQ. LO together with the NC verifies the quality of the translation of essential documents such as PIS-IC and protocol summary, adapts PIS-IC to UK requirements in collaboration with patients’ panel. UK EORTC LO may assist UK sites in negotiations of contracts. UK EORTC LO may provide guidance to new young UK investigators how to set-up the EORTC trials at their site.

London Liaison Office- UK led studies new research projects collaborations initiatives

London Liaison Officer is the main contact for UK CSGs and CTUs searching for collaboration with EORTC. London LO:

Support to the investigators willing to apply for EORTC membership

EORTC membership enables the active participation in EORTC clinical trials and EORTC groups’ meetings, conferences and trainings. Candidates may apply directly through Membership Committee (membership@eortc.be), or through the structures of the research groups (chairman or secretary). All information and application forms are available at EORTC LO in Leeds.

Career opportunities for young investigators (physicians and statisticians)

EORTC always looks for young, active, talented people, who want to develop their skills under the supervision of EORTC. There are different opportunities available, the grants for 1 up to 3 years, when young people can design, construct and analyze different kind of data with the possibility to produce the final professional paper for publication or presentation at one of the world-famous scientific congresses. Everybody interested in the fellowship position at EORTC HQ   is welcome.

Agenda of Events

Full calendar of  EORTC scientific meetings, conferences and trainings  per category can  be found  here.
For direct access  to  information on EORTC Reserach group meetings calendar click here.

SAVE the DATE!

We highly recommend the following key conferences:

Innovation and Biomarkers in Cancer Drug Development (IBCD)
Venue: Brussels, Belgium (03-04/12/2015)

Without a doubt, the combined efforts of the EORTC, an academic research organization, the US National Cancer Institute, a governmental institution, the European Medicines Agency, a regulatory agency, and the American Association for Cancer Research, a professional scientific association, assure that a unique program focusing on multi-stakeholder approaches to cancer drug development will result. They are assembling a rich scientific program for IBCD 2015 that covers topics of interest to all cancer drug development stakeholders.

More detailed information about IBCD conference can be found here.

2nd EORTC Cancer Survivorship Summit
Venue: Brussels, Belgium (31/03-01/04/2016)

Join Health care providers, pharmaceutical industry representatives, bankers and insurers, governmental agencies, politicians and payers, physicians, nurses, psychologists and social workers, patients and patient advocacy groups to discuss the specific needs of cancer survivors.

More information on the EORTC Cancer Survivorship Summit.

28th EORTC-NCI-AACR Symposium on “Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics”
Venue: Munich, Germany (29/11-02/12/2016)

It is our great pleasure to announce that the 28th EORTC-NCI-AACR Symposium on Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics will take place in Munich.  Hosted by the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC), the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), the 2016 Symposium will bring together around 2000 academics, scientists and pharmaceutical industry representatives from across the globe to discuss innovations in drug development, target selection and the impact of new discoveries in molecular biology.

This symposium is unique: it is THE scientific forum for developing drugs for the future!  As a one-of-a-kind Symposium at the forefront of drug development, it will enable participants to apply the latest findings and knowledge in their work and practice. This edition will also build on the success of the previous symposium which was widely praised for the quality of its programme, inspirational contributions and exclusive insights.

More information on ENA 2016 website

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