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LLS, Dana-Farber partner to bring clinical trials to local communities

Friday, June 7, 2013

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), a global voluntary health agency, joined the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston to establish a network of sites for clinical trial testing of blood cancer therapies in community oncology settings across the country.

This Blood Cancer Research Partnership (BCRP) will bring clinical trials closer to where patients live and help to address one of the primary bottlenecks in the development of new cancer therapies: the need for more patients to take part in trials.

“Having to travel long distances from home to a major medical center is a major deterrent to patients’ participation in cancer clinical trials,” said LLS chief mission officer Louis J. DeGennaro, Ph.D. “Most cancer patients are treated by oncologists in their local community. This partnership will bring trials closer to where patients live. We are optimistic that this program will increase trial enrollment, more rapidly advance innovative blood cancer therapies and save lives.”

Eleven potential sites have been identified for the trials, in New York, Georgia, Colorado, Illinois, California, Florida, Texas, Kansas, Tennessee, New Jersey and Washington.

LLS is investing $1.05 million in the three-year project and will have two seats on the steering committee formed to determine which trials will be conducted by the network. The agreement requires certain milestones be met, including the number of trials initiated and the number of patients accrued for each trial. The trials will be either phase I or II, with patient accrual taking place over an 18-month period. Dana-Farber is the lead institute for the BCRP and each of the community sites will follow the clinical trial protocols established by one centralized agreement.

“This novel partnership between Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and LLS supports the mission of both organizations—to bring cutting-edge clinical research to a wider spectrum of patients with blood cancers today in order to change the paradigms of clinical care for patients tomorrow,” said BCRP co-director Robert Soiffer, M.D., chief of the Division of Hematologic Malignancies at Dana-Farber. “The BCRP consortium will provide the opportunity for the Division of Hematologic Malignancies to extend clinical research trials to patients who are outside our regional area and do not have the capacity to come to Dana-Farber.”

A number of different clinical trial proposals currently are under consideration, including several for chronic lymphocytic leukemia, myeloma and stem cell transplant.

“I believe this partnership provides a unique opportunity to deliver innovative clinical trials to patients closer to home,” saidBCRP co-director Irene Ghobrial, M.D., a medical oncologist in the Division of Hematologic Malignancies at Dana-Farber. “It also creates a new pathway of collaboration between community oncologists, academic centers and foundations to improve cancer therapy for patients throughout the United States.”


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