Partnership Seeks to Accelerate Development of Innovative Therapies

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The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) recently joined the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston to establish a network of sites for clinical trial testing of innovative blood cancer therapies in community oncology settings across the country.

This Blood Cancer Research Partnership (BCRP) will bring clinical trials closer to where patients live and as a result make it easier for more patients to take part in trials.

“Having to travel long distances from home to a major medical center is a major deterrent to patients’ participation in cancer clinical trials,” said Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Chief Mission Officer Louis J. DeGennaro, PhD. “Most cancer patients are treated by oncologists in their local community. This partnership will bring trials closer to where patients live. We are optimistic that this program will increase trial enrollment, more rapidly advance innovative blood cancer therapies ,and save lives,” Dr. DeGennaro said.

Eleven Trial Sites

Eleven potential sites have been identified for the trials - in New York, Georgia, Colorado, Illinois, California, Florida, Texas, Kansas, Tennessee, New Jersey, and Washington State.

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is investing $1,050,000 in the 3-year project.  The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society will have two seats on the steering committee formed to determine which trials will be conducted by the network. The agreement requires that certain milestones be met, including the number of trials initiated and number of patients accrued for each trial. The trials will be either Phase I or II, with patient accrual taking place over an 18-month period. Dana-Farber is the lead institute for the Blood Cancer Research Partnership and each of the community sites will follow the clinical trial protocols established by one centralized agreement.

Novel Partnership

“This novel partnership between Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Leukemia & Lymphoma Society supports the mission of both organizations - to bring cutting-edge clinical research to a wider spectrum of patients with blood cancers today in order to change the paradigms of clinical care for patients tomorrow,” said Blood Cancer Research Program Co-Director Robert Soiffer, MD. Dr. Soiffer is the Chief of the Division of Hematologic Malignancies at Dana-Farber. “The BCRP consortium will provide the opportunity for the Division of Hematologic Malignancies to extend clinical research trials to patients who are outside our regional area and do not have the capacity to come to Dana-Farber,” Dr. Soiffer said.

A number of different clinical trial proposals are currently under consideration - including several for chronic lymphocytic leukemia, myeloma, and stem cell transplant.

“I believe this partnership provides a unique opportunity to deliver innovative clinical trials to patients closer to home,” says Blood Cancer Research Program Co-Director Irene Ghobrial, MD. Dr. Ghobrial is a medical oncologist in the Division of Hematologic Malignancies at Dana-Farber. “It also creates a new pathway of collaboration between community oncologists, academic centers and foundations to improve cancer therapy for patients throughout the United States,” she said. ■