The Challenges of Academic Cancer Clinical Research in Europe

European Oncology Review, 2005:17-20

In Europe, cancer remains the second cause of mortality after cardiovascular diseases. On an annual basis, an average of 2.7 million new cases are diagnosed and 1.7 million of the population in Europe die of cancer.

Importance of Academic Clinical Research in Oncology in Europe

Academic clinical research addresses major public health issues to establish new standards of care but also to facilitate the validation of new agents in existing therapeutic strategies. Nowadays, the scientific and medical advances achieved by academic research have greatly contributed to healthcare improvement and management of patients, particularly in the field of oncology, relying on multidisciplinary approaches. Academic research is not aimed at the registration of new compounds but at establishing state-of-the-art treatments.

The pharmaceutical industry invests large sums of money into screening and developing innovative compounds. Academic research is also there to collaborate on the independent evaluation of these new compounds. In addition, whenever a drug is on the market, numerous questions related to the optimal use of the drug remain to be answered (such as the optimal combinations or how to include the drug in the therapeutic strategy involving surgery and/or radiotherapy).

Today, the major threats for European research are the recognition of the role of academic clinical trials, i.e. ‘non-commercial trials’. While the patients’ integrity and safety are a priority, there is a need to recognise the specificities of these trials not aiming at registration of new compounds.

The European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer Plays a Key Role at European Level in the Field of Clinical Academic Research

Created in 1962, the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) is a private, not-for-profit international cancer research organisation under the Belgian law.

For the last 40 years, the EORTC has been a pioneer through its significant contribution to the improvement of treatment of patients with cancer, resulting from its international clinical trials conducted without commercial aim.

The EORTC has the mission to develop, conduct, co-ordinate and stimulate laboratory and clinical research in Europe to improve the management of cancer and related problems by increasing survival and patients’ quality of life. The ultimate goal of the EORTC is to improve the standard of cancer treatment in Europe, through the development of new drugs and other innovative approaches, and to test more effective therapeutic strategies using drugs that are already commercially available, or surgery or radiotherapy.

The EORTC aims to facilitate the passage of experimental discoveries into state-of-the-art treatment by keeping to a minimum the time lapse between the discovery of new anti-cancer agents and the implementation of their therapeutic benefit for patients with cancer.

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