Japanese Clinical Research Organisations

European and Japanese Clinical Research Organisations Meet to Collaborate on Future Studies in Cancer.

On 2nd December 2017, at the National Cancer Center Hospital in Japan, EORTC (European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer) and JCOG (Japan Clinical Oncology Group) convened to discuss common scientific strategies and unmet needs that could be translated into potential clinical trials.

EORTC is a non-for profit, multidisciplinary, international clinical research organisation conducting clinical trials in all tumour types to answer unmet needs. EORTC accelerates innovation by changing the paradigm for clinical cancer research, building infrastructures that reduce inefficiency to produce effective cancer treatments. The organisation has the capacity to conduct large complex multidisciplinary clinical trials especially in specific patient populations such older patients and young adults and adolescents.

JCOG is a multicentre clinical study group for cancer mainly funded by national research grants in Japan. The goal of JCOG is to establish effective standard treatments for various types of malignant tumours by conducting nationwide multicentre clinical trials, and to improve the quality and outcome of the management of cancer patients. The types of treatments developed in JCOG studies include chemotherapy, surgery, radiotherapy, endoscopic therapy and multimodality therapy.

EORTC and JCOG have complementary expertise, with similar levels of operational activities, underpinning a strong working partnership. Despite differences in the delivery of treatments in Europe and Japan, both organisations agreed that common clinical questions that evaluate the efficacy of multidisciplinary strategies as compared to surgical treatment could be addressed through clinical trials. It was underlined that a major fundraising effort will be needed to fund future projects.

Cancer remains the leading cause of mortality worldwide. It is predicted there will be 23.6 million new cancer cases worldwide each year by 2030. Tremendous progress is needed in the overall management of cancer and in particular in developing more effective treatments. However, less than 5% of physicians involved in cancer care are directly exposed to clinical trial methodology and therefore few cancer patients are offered the opportunity to participate in clinical trials.

In 2012, EORTC, in partnership with ESSO (European Society of Surgical Oncology), launched SURCARE, which aimed to develop a quality assurance infrastructure for surgical trials, facilitating the expansion of a cross border network of surgical research and developing educational exchange programmes. Less than 25% of cancer patients have access to high quality and timely surgery to ensure curative treatment. Clinical research in surgery is also very limited, leading to poor surgical techniques and variabilities of intervention. DREAM, (Diffusion-Weighted Magnetic REsonance Imaging Assessment of Liver Metastasis to Improve Surgical Planning), is a study under this initiative, in which there is joint collaboration between EORTC, ESSO and JCOG. This study will assess the accuracy of MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) in combination with other diagnostic tools to predict the response of patients who have undergone chemotherapy for colorectal liver metastasis but their tumours are borderline for surgery. DREAM will help surgeons to use imaging more effectively to guide their surgery.

“This is an important collaboration for us”, said Dr Denis Lacombe, Director General of EORTC. “We have a lot of common interests in the field of oncology. We had excellent discussions with JCOG, with a number of great ideas for collaboration. I look forward to bringing these projects to fruition through our partnership.”

“We have been learning a lot from each other”, said Dr Haruhiko Fukuda, Director of JCOG Data Center. “We have to increase the opportunities to discuss, realizing the fact that we have many similarities, not only differences. We are quite sure that this collaboration will have great impact internationally.”

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