August 13, 2019
The Canadian Cancer Clinical Trials Network launches new pilot project at Windsor Regional Hospital to help patients understand their treatment options and access current clinical studies
In early 2012, Ron Truant, the former Board Chair of Windsor Regional Hospital (WRH), became a patient when he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
Facing a disease with a dismal prognosis, Ron and his wife, Noella Truant, made an appointment for a second opinion at a hospital outside of Windsor. It was there that the Truants learned about an open clinical trial and secured the study’s last available spot.
Noella says not everyone is as fortunate as they were.
“We were lucky to gain access to an immunotherapy trial, which – in combination with a new chemotherapy treatment – gave us another four years together,” says Noella. “Throughout his own treatment, Ron was always thinking about others and realized there were many others who weren’t as fortunate as we were to find a trial. He knew that trials are complex and not everyone can navigate them, so he saw an opportunity to help.”
Last year, only eight per cent of cancer patients in Ontario were recruited to clinical trials and in community hospitals, like WRH, that number drops to fewer than two per cent. These statistics, Noella says, indicate that patients are missing opportunities to gain access to new treatment options and contribute to clinical research.
Currently, each cancer centre in Ontario has a clinical research team that recruits patients for available trials at their respective sites but patients, like Ron, often want to explore all treatment options, including those at other nearby hospitals. These patients and their care givers are frequently left to research trials on their own through websites that may not contain current information or online trial databases that may be difficult to navigate. Even if a patient finds an available trial, understanding eligibility criteria requires specialized knowledge and advanced medical literacy.
Ron, a long-standing advocate for the quality of patient care, teamed up with Dr. Caroline Hamm, an oncologist at the WRH, to develop a better way for patients to navigate clinical trials.
“We want to make sure patients are offered the best treatments available for their individual needs, and that requires more than a database of trials,” says Hamm, who is also the Director of the Windsor Cancer Research Group. “There are many considerations that a patient weighs when deciding to participate in a trial and we need a more considerate approach to help patients with these decisions.”
With support from the Canadian Cancer Clinical Trials Network (3CTN), Hamm and the Truants designed a program where a designated clinical trials specialist – a Clinical Trials Navigator – would help patients find and understand the trials available. A patient could refer themselves to the navigator or they could be referred to the navigator by their oncologist. After reviewing the patient’s case and considering their preferences, the navigator could then identify available trials for which the patient is likely eligible, and help facilitate the connection between a patient and the study team.
Hamm, in Ron Truant’s legacy, launched the Clinical Trials Navigator pilot project at WRH in January and so far the project has since helped more than 40 patients explore trial options.
Youshaa El-Abed, the project’s navigator, sees the impact of this initiative on patients and their care givers first-hand.
“When a patient comes to us, they’re looking for a trial,” says El-Abed. “But even if there are no trials available for them, the patient – and their loved ones – gain reassurance that they have explored their options.”
Due to growing demand for clinical trial navigation services at other hospitals, the project is now open to receive patient referrals from across Ontario.
Hamm, who has been recognized for her patient advocacy in Windsor, hopes to expand this initiative to new sites as she has in the past for a cancer drug access coordinator program. In addition to helping current patients with cancer, Hamm sees the Clinical Trials Navigator project as a way to accelerate clinical research so patients can benefit from research sooner.
“If we can help patients access trials, we can help trials reach their accrual targets sooner – a win-win for patients and for local clinical research,” says Hamm. “A health system with accelerated clinical research allows us to attract more study sponsors, bringing leading edge treatment options to our hospitals. Ron envisioned this solution and we’re proud it’s in action today.”
July 11, 2018
New funding for the Canadian Cancer Clinical Trials Network will help more cancer patients access clinical trials
Toronto (July 11, 2018) – The Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR) and the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer (the Partnership) today announced renewed funding for the Canadian Cancer Clinical Trials Network (3CTN). The funding will ensure Canada remains a world leader in academic cancer clinical trials, help to increase opportunities for patients to receive promising new treatments and continue to improve outcomes for cancer patients through research.
May 20, 2016
The first clinical trial was not carried-out in a hospital or clinic; rather it was conducted on the ships of the British Royal Navy while at sea. On May 20, 1747, Dr. James Lind, a Scottish naval surgeon, published his findings on several remedies for scurvy and with that established one of the most important tools in health research today – the clinical trial.
May 19, 2016
Clinical trials are an essential part of the healthcare system, giving patients access to cutting-edge treatments and providing researchers with concrete information about how these new treatments work in the clinic. To mark International Clinical Trials Day tomorrow, we spoke with Karen Arts, Executive Director of the Canadian Cancer Clinical Trials Network (3CTN) about the importance of clinical trials and how patients and their families can find out more about them.
What are clinical trials?
Clinical trials are a formal way to evaluate if a new treatment, which could be a medication or other type of therapy, is better than what is currently used to treat a condition or disease. Cancer clinical trials are important because that is how the effectiveness of new cancer treatments are tested and establish whether they should be adopted as new standard treatments for cancer patients.
May 4, 2016
Clinical trials have helped millions. Yet most patients still aren’t aware that they may be eligible for a clinical trial and that enrolling in a trial could help them.
The first step in addressing this problem is to get a conversation started between patients and their health care providers, which is why this month the Canadian Cancer Clinical Trials Network (3CTN) launched the Ask Me Campaign in hospitals across Canada.
The Ask Me Campaign takes a low-tech, one-on-one approach to the problem. Using posters in clinics and buttons for health care providers to wear when seeing patients, the program has a simple goal: to let people know that asking questions about trials is OK.
May 4, 2016
The Canadian Cancer Clinical Trials Network launches Ask Me Campaign to raise awareness of cancer clinical trials
TORONTO, ON (May 4, 2016) — Dr. Janet Dancey, Scientific Director of the Canadian Cancer Clinical Trials Network (3CTN) announced today the roll out of a new national campaign to raise awareness of cancer clinical trials in Canada ahead of International Clinical Trials Day on May 20.
The Ask Me Campaign will be introduced at more than 60 cancer centres across Canada and include hospital staff wearing “Ask Me” buttons, as well as posters and brochures placed in hospitals. These will be used to encourage patients to engage their healthcare team in a conversation about clinical trials and see if a trial may be a treatment option for them. The ultimate goal is to increase awareness about, and enrolment in, cancer clinical trials in Canada.
January 9, 2016
3CTN-funded clinical trial to test new method of finding genomic changes in patients with aggressive prostate cancer
The Canadian Cancer Clinical Trials Network (3CTN) is pleased to announce, in collaboration with Janssen Canada, funding of $500,000 to a study led by Dr. Kim Chi of the Vancouver Prostate Centre and the BC Cancer Agency. The study will evaluate the use of cell-free (or cfDNA) profiling to identify genomic alterations in patients with castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC), the lethal form of prostate cancer that has become resistant to hormone treatments.
February 25, 2015
TORONTO, ON (February 25, 2015) — The Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR) is extending its collaborative research partnership with Janssen Inc. to develop more multi-centre clinical trials and other translational research projects that address important clinical questions in prostate cancer, announced Dr. Tom Hudson, President and Scientific Director of OICR.
The new funds will be made available to qualifying researchers at cancer centres across Canada who are addressing important clinical questions in prostate cancer. The funding will be dispersed to researchers through the Canadian Cancer Clinical Trials Network, which is based at OICR, through an open application process.
“We are proud to extend this successful collaboration with our partners at Janssen,” said Dr. Hudson. “Our work together is already supporting some of the most promising translational prostate cancer research in Canada. The continuation of this partnership will help extend this collaboration further, and ultimately help bring the discoveries made in research to patients sooner.”
Janssen Inc. is a leading healthcare company that offers innovative products in areas of high unmet medical need like oncology, immunology, neuroscience, infectious diseases and vaccines, and cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.
“Prostate cancer places a significant burden upon the men who are diagnosed with the disease and their loved ones,” said Dr. Janet Dancey, Scientific Director of 3CTN. “Working with Janssen to identify and support the most promising translational research in Canada for prostate cancer will help us to find improved treatment for these men with fewer and less serious side effects.”
“OICR’s partnership with Janssen is an exciting example of how collaborative, innovative research has the ability to bring very tangible benefits for Ontarians. The Ontario government is proud to support this partnership, which not only leads to critical advances in prostate cancer treatment, but also spurs economic growth in the province,” said Reza Moridi, Minister of Research and Innovation.
OICR and Janssen first entered into partnership in 2012 and first extended the agreement in 2013. There are currently three projects underway as part of the collaboration. These projects are studying ways to better predict the development of castrate resistant prostate cancer in hopes of providing more targeted treatment with fewer side effects for patients.
Utility of miRNA signatures to predict rapid versus delayed onset of castrate resistance in prostate cancer
Dr. Christina Addison, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
Dr. Addison’s lab is validating the use of miRNA expression to help doctors to better monitor disease progression and target treatment for patients.
Assessment of CRPC response through comprehensive characterization using novel biomarkers
Dr. Eric Winquist, Lawson Health Research Institute
Dr. Winquist is leading a multicentre clinical trial studying novel blood and imaging biomarkers that can be used prior to therapy to better guide treatment and evaluate how patients respond.
Assessment of new molecular imaging strategies for prostate cancer
Dr. Katherine Zukotynski, Sunnybrook Health Research Institute
Dr. Zukotynski is running a clinical study examining novel imaging biomarkers that could provide a more accurate early measure of response to therapy and have a higher prognostic value than standard imaging.
The new agreement announced today extends the initiative through 2015 and opens the eligibility for funding beyond Ontario to cancer sites across Canada.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among Canadian men, excluding non-melanoma skin cancer. An estimated 26,500 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer and 4,000 will die of the disease each year.
January 13, 2015
Canadian Cancer Clinical Trials Network receives new funding, launches online service to connect patients to clinical trials
TORONTO, ON (January 13, 2015) – Dr. Janet Dancey, Scientific Director of the Canadian Cancer Clinical Trials Network (3CTN), today announced that 3CTN has received funding support from the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR), the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer (the Partnership), the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (CBCF) and CancerCare Manitoba. These contributions are the first from 3CTN’s coalition of cancer research funding organizations. 3CTN is in the process of finalizing additional funding commitments.
The funding will be used to establish the Network’s sites at cancer centres conducting clinical trials across Canada. Network sites will receive financial support and other resources to be able to increase trials available to patients. Dancey also announced that 3CTN has also launched a new online service that will assist patients and clinicians in finding cancer clinical trials that may be of benefit.
“This funding is great news for Canada’s cancer clinical trials infrastructure, which is essential for bringing the most promising therapies and technologies to the clinic,” says Dr. Tom Hudson, President and Scientific Director of OICR. “Connecting patients to clinical trials is important in moving the science forward, but also allows us to provide avenues of treatment for those patients who have exhausted standard treatment options.”
3CTN is a pan-Canadian initiative to improve patient access to trials and the efficiency and quality of clinical trials activities in Canada. Its aim is to provide support and coordination for a network of teams at cancer treatment centres and hospitals and enable the sites to increase their capacity and capability to conduct academic trials and increase access for patients to participate in trials.
Seven Network Regional Coordinating Centres and 15 Network Cancer Centres will be established by 3CTN with the funding. In the future 3CTN will expand to include many Network Affiliated Cancer Centres. Currently 3CTN has 229 clinical trials in its portfolio including 60 pediatric trials, with more to be added as they are ready to be opened for patients. These academic trials supported by 3CTN reflect the priorities of clinicians, researchers, patients, ministries of health and funders.
“Connecting cancer patients with clinical trials may help to improve their chances of better treatment and outcomes, two key elements of Canada’s national cancer strategy. By strengthening the environment for cancer clinical trials in our country, 3CTN will improve the quality of cancer care for all Canadians,” says Ms. Shelly Jamieson, CEO of the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer.
“With approximately 24,000 individuals diagnosed with breast cancer each year, the investment by CBCF to 3CTN reflects our commitment to bring new breast cancer treatments to patients sooner. Supporting the breast cancer clinical research community is critical for ensuring that innovative Canadian research has an opportunity to improve outcomes and the quality of life for all Canadians affected by breast cancer,” says Ms. Sandra Palmaro, Co-CEO Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.
The funding contribution from CancerCare Manitoba comes as the Government of Manitoba highlighted supporting academic clinical trials as a priority in its Speech from the Throne on November 20, with the specific goal of increasing patient participation in clinical trials.
“Ontario is thrilled that organizations from across Canada have come together to fund this important initiative. This network will give researchers the ability to bring life-saving innovations into cancer centres sooner and offer more patients the opportunity to join clinical trials. Both may lead to better treatments and healthier outcomes for people in Ontario and around the world,” says Reza Moridi, Ontario’s Minister of Research and Innovation.