Advanced cancer patients thrown lifeline

Oncology patients in the advanced stages of cancer will be given greater access to clinical trials under an ambitious new national anti-cancer initiative that could save lives.

At a time when only five per cent of adult cancer patients are involved in trials compared to 80 per cent of children, the Eliminate Cancer Initiative (ECI) targets the difficulties that stand in the way of anyone wanting to participate in a trial.

Philanthropist Andrew Forrest has offered $75 million through his Minderoo Foundation to the clinical trials project to make cancer non-lethal for the next generation, at a time when cancer incidence is expected to rise by 70 per cent because of Australia’s ageing population. Statistics also show that 50 per cent of cancers are now preventable. 

CEO of Perth-based Linear Clinical Research, Dr Michael Winlo, has been working on the project to overhaul clinical trials.

“This is a pioneering program to ensure oncology patients get better access to clinical trials,” Dr Winlo said. “Those who take part in clinical trials have better health outcomes than those who don’t and they receive better support and care.

“Currently if a trial is not available locally, patients must travel interstate or miss out on the opportunity. Under this project, we can take the trial to them.

“With this initiative, we aim to create the world’s first fully collaborated global clinical trial network to accelerate the development of new drugs.

“If you have cancer, you can be matched to any one of a number of trials available nationally through the ECI program and the trial will be brought to you.”

“It will begin with three Australian sites and will then be rolled out around the country and, eventually, the world.

“Trials will be undertaken at the Olivia Newton John Cancer Centre in Melbourne, the Chris O’Brien Lifehouse in New South Wales and at Linear Clinical Research within the Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in Perth. We’re aiming to exchange trials and help each other to save lives.”

Dr Winlo said the Eliminate Cancer Initiative had other benefits notably:

Creating more awareness about trials and the potential benefits, especially to oncology patients, clinicians and specialistsHarnessing new technology to develop better ways to match patients to trails and to synchronise trial activityCreating an integrated data platform to enable collaboration and cooperation to harmonise clinical trials from activation to deliveryImproving the trial selection infrastructure and participation, which can be lengthy and complicatedCreating a more active trial system where patients will benefit from faster deliveryDeveloping a faster process to complete necessary governance so one approval can be used across all sites undertaking the same trialHarmonising trials across sites to reduce time and costs.

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