Aptium Oncology, a consulting and management company for cancer centers, is putting together a network of investigators specifically focused on myeloma and related cancers. The Aptium Oncology Myeloma Consortium (AMyC) is modeled after Aptium’s GI Cancer Consortium, a group launched in 2008 to focus on gastrointestinal cancers.
“What we did with the GI Consortium—AGICC—was to pull together a group of investigators who are opinion leaders in GI cancer treatment and who practice at institutions that have robust GI programs already in place and access to a large number of GI cancer patients. We gathered those investigators and institutions together, and we’re supplying them with a grant, the purpose of which is to enhance their programs,” said Marti McKinley, vice president of clinical research programs for both AGICC and AMyC.
The researchers, who hail from 11 of the country’s largest cancer centers, will assist in the development and execution of phase Ib and phase II industry-sponsored trials.
Aptium hopes this initial investment will result in a long-term business strategy.
“It’s almost like another business line for the company,” McKinley said. “What we have set out to do—and what we are doing with the GI consortium—is work with pharma companies to actually write the protocols with them and our investigators and to get the studies up and running. We take care of contractual arrangements—we have master agreements in place with each of the institutions. We’ll do the data collection, provide for the data analysis and work with the companies to produce a clinical trial report and then, of course, publish.”
The launch of the AMyC coincides with an Institute of Medicine report released last week saying that the government-funded Clinical Trials Cooperative Group Program, part of the National Cancer Institute (NCI), is “approaching a state of crisis” as late-stage clinical trials are being bogged down by waste and inefficiency. The Cooperative Group Program comprises more than 3,100 institutions and 14,000 investigators and enrolls about 25,000 patients a year. Despite these resources, according to the report, 40% of late-stage cancer trials end before completion.
The report, conducted at the request of NCI director John Niederhuber, recommended that the Cooperative Group Program improve the design and conduct of cancer trials to be more efficient and provide incentives to physicians and patients to increase participation.
McKinley said problems like those cited in the report are what led to the formation of Aptium’s consortia.
“We see a big gap in the way that drugs are developed, with pharma companies kind of struggling to get trials up and running and recruited on time,” McKinley said.
AMyC will be directed by Brian Durie, M.D., the co-founder and chair of the International Myeloma Foundation. Fifteen investigators applied to be a part of the consortium, and 11 were selected based on the strength of the investigators, their associated institutions and their perceived ability to quickly move studies through the clinical trial process.
Aptium is planning for the first two myeloma trials to begin soon. The company’s GI Consortium has three trials ongoing for two different pharma companies.