An article published in the ESMO Open provides a consensus on the definition of academic research, illustrating its added value and calling to EU institutions to support this type of research.
“Independent academic research is endangered for lack of funds and adequate legislation. Working closely with EU institutions, we can make sure Europe is equipped with efficient legal framework and a vision to become the best place for research and innovation, for the ultimate benefit of cancer patients,” said Rolf A. Stahel, ESMO Past President.
To emphasise the importance of academic clinical research, three leading European organisations – the European Association for Cancer Research (EACR), the European Organisation for the Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC), and the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) – have established the Clinical Academic Cancer Research Forum (CAREFOR, www.eortc.org/carefor) in 2014.
In this paper, they address the funding and regulatory challenges faced by academic researchers, as well as the need to foster collaborative cancer research by developing novel approaches to clinical trials.
The CAREFOR paper explains that the three main areas that would benefit from academic research are: personalised medicine, patient-centred innovation and rare cancer patients.
“Cancer is a complex disease that continuously evolves under treatment. New discoveries have revealed that there are an enormous number of cancer subtypes, which each present unique characteristics. A combination of basic and clinical research will play an increasingly important role in the development of tailored treatment options leading to improved therapeutic strategies,” explains Richard Marais, EACR Past President.
“With 3.2 million new cases of cancer per year and considering the increasing number of patients with rare conditions, non-commercial research is essential as it has the potential to optimise therapeutic strategies for frequent tumours and address the unmet needs of rare cancer patients through the use of new methodologies for evidence generation and evaluation. Independent researchers address pragmatic questions critically relevant to treat patients in real life, including --but not limited to--combination of treatments and treatment duration, thus taking into account medical value and clinical relevance of treatments,” explains Denis Lacombe, EORTC Director General.
Other critical issues addressed in the CAREFOR paper include: the affordability of cancer care; the need for independent, collaborative and quality biobanks; the acceptance of new methodologies for evidence generation and evaluation, and the use and protection of electronic patient data.
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