Cancer is a complex disease that evolves continuously. With the steadily growing number of cancer subtypes, each with their own specific molecular and genetic signature, academic clinical cancer research has an increasing role to play in developing tailored treatment options as well as real-life implementation of therapeutic strategies.
Commercially sponsored clinical trials are responsible for developing new medicines. By their design and focus, these trials need to fulfil commercial interests and market expectations. As soon as or even before novel treatments obtain formal market authorization, academia take these existing and new treatments to further conduct research in order to optimize their use and develop new combinations, with a strong focus on the patients and their specific needs, including rare tumors. Established standard of care most commonly relies on research originating from non-commercial entities, cooperative groups or academic clinical research.
Independent collaborative research platforms are in the best position to identify specific patients to access new trials and to optimise knowledge development. To achieve this, it is important that biological materials are stored in non-proprietary quality-controlled biobanks rather than by commercial entities. This would help facilitate and accelerate regulatory acceptance with regard to the validation of relevant research targets and biomarkers. Centralising data allows matching the right tumour type with the right investigational drug, based on molecular characteristics which can possibly bring therapeutic innovation more rapidly to patients as well as monitoring long term outcome and quality of life.
To emphasise the importance of academic clinical research, three leading European organisations – the European Association for Cancer Research (EACR), the European Organisation for the Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC), and the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) – have established the Clinical Academic Cancer Research Forum (CAREFOR) in 2014.
CAREFOR therefore reflects the willingness of academia to work together in developing independent collaborative research platforms and maintain an open and constructive dialogue with European policymakers in order to keep Europe at the cutting edge of cancer research.