Now Enrolling: Social Genomics Study EAQ211 to Examine Known Biomarkers of Elevated Health Risk in Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer SurvivorsOctober 19, 2023
By Peter J. O’Dwyer, MD (left)
and Mitchell D. Schnall, MD, PhD
As you know, external forces and opportunities, together with an expansion of the scope of current cancer research relevant to ECOG-ACRIN’s mission, are steadily changing our research portfolios and necessitating the participation of broader constituencies. One that we are especially excited to discuss will debut at the in-person Group Meeting in October. The Oncology Nursing Committee has been in existence for over 30 years, and nurse practitioner (NP) Bridget O’Brien Fagan has led this group for the past 17 years. She and Dr. Al Benson, vice chair of ECOG-ACRIN, have worked collaboratively with SWOG’s NP interest group to develop a structure and a guiding document to foster NP, physician assistant (PA), and pharmacist participation in our activities.
The new Advanced Practice Providers (APP) Working Group will hold a session at the upcoming Group Meeting on Friday, October 27 from 11:00 am – 12:00 pm. This group will not replace the Oncology Nursing Committee but rather complement it, acknowledging the role that APPs play as clinicians and experts in working with clinical trial patients. We hope this initiative will encourage these essential members of the oncology team to actively participate in cooperative group research. We highlight this development well in advance of the Group Meeting to invite APP participation, and we look forward to seeing you there.
To give voice to our community colleagues, we also introduce with this newsletter an occasional Community Corner, which will be dedicated to sharing ECOG-ACRIN trial advances that may impact not only accrual to the studies, but also the management of patients outside of these trials. Dr. Matthias Weiss elucidates a key challenge for community-based hematologist-medical oncologists: maintaining up-to-date knowledge of the changing landscape of molecular- and genomic-driven cancer therapeutics. Then, Dr. Kim Reiss discusses constitutive (germline) aberrations in DNA repair, increasingly recognized as a growing contributor of cancer risk, and in an expanding proportion of cancer patients. Along with these findings, companies are devoting increasing efforts to identifying drugs that could both treat established cancers and ameliorate cancer risk. In several ways going forward, we plan to introduce strategies for patient and family identification, as well as therapeutic options directed to them.
The scope of community cancer research will also expand with the recent award to ECOG-ACRIN of a U01 Cooperative Agreement to address Real-World Data. Dr. Benson has also led this effort, established as a formal working group in 2022 and now coalesced as a research group of ECOG-ACRIN investigators and statisticians in collaboration with other researchers from our member institutions. All are interested in novel methods of data acquisition and interpretation, including EHR mining, and highly promising collaborations both with the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) Program of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the insurance giant Optum. As details of the initial studies in this area take shape, we will share them in this newsletter and invite you to participate. Ultimately, our goal is to learn what works in a larger and more representative population of cancer patients than the 3% who have entered clinical trials (a proportion that has remained the same for about 30 years). With collaboration, novel designs, and technological advances, we hope that this proportion can increase to 30% or more.
Finally, the first meeting of the new season (Iowa for cancer researchers!) was of NCORP leadership held by the Division of Cancer Prevention (DCP) and the Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences (DCCPS) in Bethesda in late August. ECOG-ACRIN was well represented with trial results presented by Dr. Anand Jillella (prevention of fatal complications early in acute promyelocytic leukemia), Dr. Ruth Carlos (longitudinal assessment of financial burden in patients with colon or rectal cancer treated with curative intent), and a panel discussion focused on both science and operations priorities, in which Dr. Lynne Wagner participated. An insightful meeting of NCI with DCP and DCCPS leadership toward the end of the meeting established both a collaborative interaction and commitment to future dialogue.
Read the October 2023 issue here.