The Cambridge, Mass.-based Alliance for Clinical Research Excellence and Safety (ACRES) and Clinical Trials Ontario (CTO) have agreed to collaborate, marking a first-of-its-kind, cross-border relationship. Although collaboration specifics have not been provided, the groups have suggested that areas of synergy might include investigator certification and streamlining ethical and regulatory oversight.
The two organizations have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), a pact that was announced at the recent 15th Pharma & Clinical Trials Canada Summit in Toronto. According to a prepared statement, the MOU will allow the pair “to work together to address the global challenges facing the conduct of clinical trials and the development of global therapies and health-related research endeavors.”
Greg Koski, Ph.D., M.D., who is co-founder, president and CEO of ACRES, told CWWeekly that his organization’s alliance with CTO is a natural one.
“There needs to be a global system for clinical research, and Canada is one of our closest neighbors,” Koski said in a phone interview. “CTO is clearly establishing itself as an important leader in the clinical trials space across Ontario. CTO wants to make Ontario, and Canada, more active in the global arena of clinical research. And ACREs cannot possibly be as attuned to the issues in Canada as the Canadians.”
ACRES’ efforts also involve other nations, such as Japan and Korea. The organization’s website notes that ACRES has been “connecting diverse stakeholders—including sponsors and CROs, government ministries and regulators, service providers, professional organizations, ethics committees, patients, and research sites—to collaborate on the building of the [global] system.”
Susan Marlin, president and chief executive officer of CTO, also described the reasons for the new partnership.
“CTO and ACRES share a common interest in ensuring clinical trials are done according to the highest standards of quality, safety, efficiency and ethics,” she said via email. “The partnership benefits CTO by providing us with access to both the projects and strategic partners ACRES is involved with, specifically those that align with our common interests. ACRES recognizes CTO as being similar to itself in terms of being a multi-stakeholder organization and therefore CTO helps ACRES to build broad international participation in building a high-performance clinical research system.
“ACRES is interesting to CTO both in terms of the similarity in its mandate, and in its global outreach. CTO frequently works with organizations in Canada and elsewhere to advance common interests. With some of these organizations, like ACRES, we have formalized agreements. Working in cooperation with all of our partner organizations has been absolutely critical to our learning and growth and we hope we have provided value in all of our collaborative activities. We look forward to developing additional partnerships as we grow as an organization and engage more in activities such as patient and public engagement.
“The partnership will contribute to advancing high quality and ethical research, and such research benefits our patients by maximizing both patient safety and the quality and usefulness of research findings of clinical trials. Additionally, as CTO’s patient and public engagement agenda moves forward in phase II, we hope to work with ACRES and other organizations with similar interests.”
Looking to the future, Marlin added, “We have just signed the signed the strategic alliance agreement but look forward to discussing priority projects over the next months. First on our list is CTO sharing details of an efficient, new ‘streamlined’ approach to research-ethics review that was recently introduced in Ontario. Additionally, CTO wants to learn about the work ACRES and its partners are pursuing to support research sites and engaging patients and the public in clinical trials.”
Koski noted that it is the participants in clinical trials who ultimately will benefit from the groups’ efforts.
“Clinical trials, done well, clearly will facilitate getting new medicines to the people looking for them to improve their health,” he said. “We believe that patients are more than just a commodity in this whole process. Patients are major stakeholders.”
This article was reprinted from Volume 19, Issue 41, of CWWeekly, a leading clinical research industry newsletter providing expanded analysis on breaking news, study leads, trial results and more. Subscribe »