American Association for Cancer Research

Press Releases: 2008

New Tool to Speed Cancer Therapy Approval Available


September 15, 2008

PHILADELPHIA - Although cancer remains a leading cause of death in America, it can take up to 12 years to bring a new anti-cancer agent before the FDA and the success rate for approval is only five to 10 percent. That means many research hours and dollars are wasted chasing avenues that will not bring fruit.

The National Cancer Institute's Translational Research Working Group (TRWG) developed a set of tools that it believes will improve that process. The tools, known as "Pathways to Clinical Goals" are published in the September 15 issue of Clinical Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

"The NCI supports a great deal of excellent translational research, but inefficiencies arising from a lack of communication and coordinated effort prevent many promising leads from reaching clinical trials and eventual approval," said Lynn Matrisian, Ph.D., a special assistant in the Office of the Director, NCI. Matrisian co-chaired the TRWG, which was formed in 2005 with the goal of accelerating the pace of translational cancer research. Publication of the Pathways is expected to be a major step forward in this process.

There are six Pathways that address the following categories: anti-cancer agents (drugs or biologics), biospecimen-based assessment methods, immune response modifiers, image-based assessment modalities, intervention devices, and lifestyle alterations.

Each pathway is a flowchart with a series of steps intended to clarify and streamline the translational research process. For example, in the anti-cancer agent pathway, researchers are encouraged at the outset to address the following three questions:

  • Is the empirical basis for attributing clinical potential (alone and/or in combination) convincing?
  • Does the envisioned clinical need justify expenditure of resources?
  • Is it feasible to identify/develop an agent against this target?

If the answer to any of these questions is "no," then research leaders are encouraged to direct their research toward more effective plans.

Matrisian and her colleagues hope that the TRWG pathways will be widely used and that they will make the early translational research process more efficient.

"The NCI funds many important research projects, and we hope these pathways will help in placing each research opportunity in the broader context of tangible cancer detection, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment strategies. We believe the NCI's experience will be an important resource for other groups advancing translational research as well," said Matrisian.

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The mission of the American Association for Cancer Research is to prevent and cure cancer. Founded in 1907, AACR is the world's oldest and largest professional organization dedicated to advancing cancer research. The membership includes more than 28,000 basic, translational and clinical researchers; health care professionals; and cancer survivors and advocates in the United States and 80 other countries. AACR marshals the full spectrum of expertise from the cancer community to accelerate progress in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer through high-quality scientific and educational programs. It funds innovative, meritorious research grants. The AACR Annual Meeting attracts more than 17,000 participants who share the latest discoveries and developments in the field. Special conferences throughout the year present novel data across a wide variety of topics in cancer research, treatment and patient care. AACR publishes five major peer-reviewed journals: Cancer Research; Clinical Cancer Research; Molecular Cancer Therapeutics; Molecular Cancer Research; and Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. Its most recent publication and its sixth major journal, Cancer Prevention Research, is dedicated exclusively to cancer prevention, from preclinical research to clinical trials. The AACR also publishes CR, a magazine for cancer survivors and their families, patient advocates, physicians and scientists. CR provides a forum for sharing essential, evidence-based information and perspectives on progress in cancer research, survivorship and advocacy.

Media Contact:
Jeremy Moore
267-646-0557
Jeremy.moore@aacr.org