Oncology clinical trials: making progress in the global fight against cancer


In medical research, few areas of investigation match the breadth, depth, and potential impact of oncology research. As such, it consistently secures significant resources, media attention and international collaboration.

In the six years between 2017 and 2022 inclusive, almost one in four (24%) of all clinical trials focused on cancer*. Those efforts don’t simply revolve around ‘high profile’ diseases like breast, lung, liver, and prostate cancer. Among the tens of thousands of oncology clinical trials currently underway are studies into malignant ascites, the effects of chemotherapy, and many, many more. In fact, by 2021 there had been a 56% increase in the number of oncology clinical trials starting since 2016 – with most focused on “rare cancer indications”.

The urgency and determination with which the research community is tackling cancer is easy to understand. In the US alone, estimates suggest cancer accounted for almost 1,700 deaths every day§ in 2022. Almost every family in the developed world has been impacted by cancer and global oncology spending is set to pass $300 billion by 2026.

How oncology research continues to advance

Oncology clinical trials are among some of the most high-profile medical research efforts. In numerical terms, the sheer scale of activity means ever more people are being reached as potential trial participants.

In the UK, 140,000 people aged 50 to 77 are taking part in the ground-breaking NHS-Galleri trial. This decentralized trial aims to determine whether a new blood test can accurately screen for more than 50 different types of cancer. Initial research gave encouraging results and, if the test is proven to be effective on this much larger population, it could help to ensure early treatment is provided to more people – thereby preventing potentially thousands of cancer deaths each year.

In Brazil, the progression of the development of potential vaccines against cancer also continues at pace. Oncology researchers at the University of Sao Paulo are now actively comparing mRNA cancer vaccines# produced using different technologies. 

And in the US, several prostate cancer clinical trials are looking at ways to advance treatment in a range of different circumstances. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled phase 3 study involving 750 participants is one of the most closely monitored trials. It aims to assess the impact of a well-known hormone therapy on patients undergoing androgen deprivation therapy (ADT).

Elsewhere in America, a phase 1 clinical trial coordinated from the Oregon Health and Science University has recently found encouraging results after assessing a drug combination designed to prevent metastatic tumours in the brains of women with advanced breast cancer.

These trials – and the many thousands of others currently making investigations into the prevention, treatment, and cure of cancers – are crucial to easing the burden on the world’s healthcare systems and providing better health outcomes for people of every country. Four in 10 people will receive a cancer diagnosis during their life, so the luxury of time simply does not exist.

However, the success of all these oncology clinical trials relies on a complex, global supply chain also operating at its best. Getting appropriate and regulatory-approved equipment across international borders and to the front lines of medical research is a challenging task. But without the sound sourcing and provision of literally thousands of centrifuges, infusion pumps, blood pressure monitors, fridges, freezers, and more, these ground-breaking trials stall before they even begin.

We urge all researchers and CROs to ensure they are choosing the right equipment supplier for their clinical trial. Making this decision at speed may seem like an effective way to accelerate your process, but it often comes at the risk of delays and other problems further down the line. Our strong recommendation is to always seek a partner with unique product knowledge and sourcing expertise, and a proven record of international deliveries on time and on budget.

If you’re a CRO looking for equipment expertise, support, and regulatory knowledge for your next oncology clinical trial, contact us today. Our friendly team will be happy to help.

* Statistca - https://www.statista.com/statistics/1248657/clinical-drug-trials-by-key-therapeutic-area/ 
 WCG - https://www.centerwatch.com/clinical-trials/listings/therapeutic-area/12/oncology 
 IQVIA - https://www.iqvia.com/insights/the-iqvia-institute/reports-and-publications/reports/global-oncology-trends-2022 
§ ACS Journals - https://acsjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.3322/caac.21708
 NHS-Galleri Trial - https://www.nhs-galleri.org/ 
# National Cancer Institute - https://www.cancer.gov/news-events/cancer-currents-blog/2023/mrna-vaccines-treat-hpv-cancers 
♠ Medscape - https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/995799?form=fpf 
 National Cancer Institute - https://ccr.cancer.gov/news/article/first-clinical-trial-testing-a-prevention-for-breast-cancer-metastasis-to-the-brain-yields-encouraging-results 
♦ National Cancer Institute - https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/understanding/statistics 


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