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$1.5m funding boost this International Clinical Trials Day

Thursday 20 May, 2021

Funding of $1.5 million has been announced on International Clinical Trials Day today to support Victorian researchers to develop clinical trials that can improve the quality of life of people diagnosed with cancer and facilitate equitable access to trials that support holistic patient care. 

Cancer Council Victoria’s Cancer Trials Management Scheme and the Victorian Government through the Victorian Cancer Agency will fund three projects that address an unmet need and build sector capacity to deliver cancer clinical trials that aim to improve supportive care and/or survivorship care for people living with or beyond a cancer diagnosis, with funding offered for a maximum of three years.

Danielle Spence, Head of Strategy & Support at Cancer Council Victoria, said the organisation wanted to help address a gap in clinical trials research funding.

“Advances in diagnosis, surgery, radiotherapy and new drugs have led to many improvements in cancer survival yet a large proportion of patients with cancer still experience morbidity and symptoms, resulting from the cancer and/or its treatment. Research into supportive and survivorship care is needed to find new ways to improve the quality of life of patients and survivors and help us better understand which interventions should be incorporated into standard practice so all patients can benefit from them,” she said.

“The effects of treatment such as pain, sleep disorders, nausea, fatigue, depression and other health problems can be debilitating and prevent patients being well enough to undergo treatment.

“Our competitive grants help researchers by providing them with start-up funding to investigate innovative new ideas and gain an evidence-base to apply for additional funding grants.”

Cancer Council Victoria is committed to raising awareness of and encouraging participation in clinical trials, with less than six percent of people newly diagnosed with cancer participating in cancer clinical trials each year, a statistic that is even lower for people living in rural and regional areas.

Clinical trials can offer patients access to therapies and support interventions that may not be otherwise available to them. When Warren was diagnosed with Diffuse Large B-cell Lymphoma (DLBCL) in 2019, unfortunately he didn’t respond to standard treatment and so participated in several clinical trials. 

“Warren always put his hand up for any extra tests,” his partner Klarissa said. “His theory was that even though none of it worked for him, we would learn something from it to benefit people in the future.”

Sadly, Warren passed away from cancer in November 2020 after courageously facing multiple rounds of treatment and clinical trials. Looking back at their experience, Klarissa would recommend clinical trials to others considering taking part.

“I think you should embrace clinical trials,” she said. “If someone’s offering you a lifeline and the patient wants to have a go, then have a go and if it doesn’t work, we’ve still learnt something from it.

“I can’t fault them, because it gave us longer than we would have had. If we hadn’t done it, he would have been gone well before then. We would have had six months instead of 15.

“I think it’s an amazing opportunity, we just need more of it in Australia.”

Applications for Cancer Council Victoria’s Cancer Trials Management Scheme Competitive Grant round open today, Thursday 20 May 2021, and will close on Thursday 15 July 2021.

International Clinical Trials Day is celebrated around the world to recognize the day that James Lind started what is often considered the first randomized clinical trial aboard a ship on 20 May 1747.

In addition to funding research, Cancer Council Victoria also manages the Victorian Cancer Trials Link website, allowing patients to search for clinical trials and facilitating access to trials for cancer patients and clinicians in Victoria.

Search for a trial in your area at the Victorian Cancer Trials Link website.