What is your analysis of the evolution of clinical research in oncology over the last decade?
Because of the new targets identified to kill cancer cells, there is a dramatic increase in the number of clinical trials. It is not only about targeted therapies and new immunotherapies, but also new types of chemotherapies with antibody drug conjugates for instance. If we only focus on immunotherapies in cancer, we consider that more than 1500 trials are ongoing worldwide.
At the same time, there is an interest from oncologists and patients to have access to innovation and news drugs. New drugs are available with clinical trials, and there is a continuum between clinical research and standard of care.
What trends do you envision as likely to shape the next 5 to 10 years?
The number of clinical trials will continue to increase: it is a real tsunami of new drugs and drug combinations to fight cancer.\ The complexity of clinical trials will also increase, and teams will need to update their skills to manage patients in trials.
As competition for recruiting patients seems to become problematic in many cases, do you see “untapped” hospitals as reservoirs of patients?
Yes. We need to define new means of proposing clinical trials to patients. Basically, we previously tried to identify patients for clinical trials. Now, we need to identify clinical trials for patients with advanced cancer. In France for instance, less than 5% of cancer patients are enrolled in clinical trials, whereas many more would benefit from participating in trials.
Could you summarize the way clinical networks have worked over the last years in cancer research?
Over the last decade, various clinical networks have been organized. For instance, CLIP2 is focused on early clinical trials. Rare cancer networks are specialized for patients with very rare cancers. Expert centres (academic hospitals and anticancer centres) have developed a recruitment strategy in various regions in France.
How should clinical networks evolve in the near future?
We need to offer the best treatment option for each patient, and yet information on what clinical trials are started in France is not updated in real time. We need to use modern tools to achieve this major step in the development and monitoring of trials.
Last question - what technologies do you feel you need the most on the operational side of clinical studies?
Software and applications have the power to simplify the inclusion of patients in clinical trials.
Professor Christophe Massard (MD, PhD) is a medical oncologist and senior consultant at Drug Development Department (DITEP). He has been the Head of Department at DITEP since Sep 2017. Professor Massard received his medical degree from PARIS XI University in 2006, and earned an MSc and PhD from PARIS XI University in 2013. He completed his residency training in Paris Hospital, followed by his fellowship in medical oncology at Gustave Roussy. He did a post-doctoral fellowship in Professor DeBono’s lab at the Royal Marsden Hospital of London and Institute of Cancer Research (London).
Professor Massard is a member of ESMO, ASCO and AACR. He is board-certified in Medical Oncology. Over the last 5 years, he has been the principal investigator on 50 phase I trials, 1 phase II trial (prostate cancer), and the co-investigator of over 80 clinical trials (phase 1 trials and GU cancers). He is also involved in translational research aspects related to precision medicine (MOSCATO, MATCH-R). Professor Massard has contributed to over 100 peer reviewed publications, including publications in European Urology, Annals of Oncology and Journal of Clinical Oncology.