EGAM 2019 awardees for best recruiting group, trial and institute

  • Best recruiting group: EORTC Lung Cancer Group

EORTC Lung Cancer Group was awarded the best “recruiting group” during the plenary session at EGAM in Brussels, today. Prof. Benjamin Besse, Chair of the group, allocates their success to its members, who identify the unmet needs, and build trials designed to define strategies. Studies also include strong translational parts as well as exploring new areas such as publish a consensus on oligometastatic disease or explore the link between radon exposure and oncogenic drivers in lung cancer. It is a team work, and the contribution of all the board was key, in particular Prof. Silvia Novello, Dr. Thierry Berghmans, Prof. Anne-Marie Dingemans and the past Chair Prof. Mary O’Brian. The Lung Cancer Group has 687 international members and has been very active in the last 3 years, resulting in more than seven trials that just started or are about to start.

The group have a very involved Young Investigators group. They participate in all aspects of the clinical trial as co-coordinators.

“The next 3 big challenges facing the Lung group are: first, to design and fund more phase III trials in order to answer new strategy questions, secondly, to speed up the processes before study launch in close collaboration with HQ, and, finally, to collaborate more with other groups” says Prof. Besse.

His advice for the other EORTC groups are simple: democratic rules, to limit the “PIship” to one or two studies maximum and to trust the Young Investigators.


  • Best recruiting trial: APPLE trial

The APPLE trial: Feasibility and activity of AZD9291(osimertinib) treatment on Positive PLasma T790M in EGFR mutant NSCLC patients has awarded by EORTC as the best recruiting trial. Since its inception, the rate of recruitment has been high compared to what was projected. Currently, 22 out of 37 sites have been activated in 6 countries (Belgium, France, Jordan, Poland, Slovenia and Spain) Since trial the trial officially opened mid-October 2017, 116 patients have been registered and 93 patients randomized, which is 59.6% of the target enrollment (156). It is planned to open additional sites in Italy and the United Kingdom as well to have 37 sites in 8 countries.

This phase II trial intends to prospectively validate liquid biopsies as a new standard for testing tumour progression compared with conventional radiological procedures in EGFR mutant advanced NSCLC patients. Based on the sequential T790M test during treatment the investigators will assess the predictive value of liquid biopsies. APPLE trial will also examine the best strategy for delivering osimertinib (upfront versus sequential treatment after 1st generation EGFR TKI) in EGFR mutant NSCLC patients. Finally, the trial will also explore possible mechanisms of acquired resistance to Osimertinib based on the results of an optional biopsy upon progression on Osimertinib.

To evaluate the best strategy for delivering Osimertinib (AZD9291) in NSCLC patients with EGFR mutation is the primary objective of APPLE trial and  is assessed by Progression Free Survival rate at 18 months (PFS-18).

“The Lung Cancer Group members and EORTC Staff are extremely motivated to perform this innovative and demanding trial in the lung cancer field,” said Dr Rafał Dziadziuszko, Principal Investigator of the study and Clinical Oncologist from Medical University of Gdansk, Poland. “Liquid biopsies are used routinely to assess minimal residual disease and monitor resistance mechanisms in haematological malignancies.”

“This paradigm is now extended to solid tumours, particularly those difficult to reach by biopsy, such as lung cancer. The APPLE trial success is backed by enthusiasm of the Group members – physicians and their dedicated centres’ staff, but also the vision of the board with involvement of Junior Principal Investigator, Dr Jordi Remon Masip, and excellent laboratory service at the Medical University of Gdansk.”

EORTC Director General, Dr Denis Lacombe emphasised the importance of this translational research trial to EORTC.  “APPLE is one of the current EORTC studies which demonstrate that, together, our network and headquarters have the capacity to deliver translational research based trials efficiently in a sustained programme efficiently with the commercial sector,” he said.  “We are proud that EORTC continues enabling that changing practice approaches be tested while embracing the challenges of modern oncology.”


  • Best recruiting institute: UZ Leuven campus Gasthuisberg

At the plenary session during EGAM 2019, EORTC awarded UZ Leuven campus Gasthuisberg the best recruiting centre in 2018. The institute has recruited over 450 patients across 19 EORTC studies.

University Hospital (UZ Leuven) and the associated K.U. Leuven has more than 50 groups focusing on one or more aspects of cancer research, from basic research, translational research to clinical studies. The Leuven Cancer Institute brings together all activities related to cancer medicine at the University Hospital, UZ Leuven in one organizational structure. Its strategic, multidisciplinary institute coordinates both clinical and basic research, gathering competences of medics and paramedics in daily practice, to create and achieve the maximum value and quality for patients.

UZ Leuven has been an active partner in EORTC studies, with 182 investigators being members of 14 EORTC groups, working on a number of trials. It has conducted some grounding breaking EORTC trials such as CREATE trial which was a rare tumour basket trial assessing the activity and safety of Crizotinib in six independent tumour types including advanced papillary renal cell carcinoma type 1 (pRCC1), a very rare and frequently misdiagnosed cancer type.

“We are grateful to LKI for its dedication to EORTC,” said Dr Denis Lacombe, EORTC Director General. “We are constantly trying to improve our interactions and partnerships with member institutions; we have created a position for Network Relationship Officer and Ann Marinus, as the officer, will engage with members to facilitate EORTC activities.”

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