Academic clinical research is under threat from the EU

Copenhagen, Denmark: New therapies for hard-to-treat or rare cancers might never be developed and patients would continue to suffer and die unless problems with the proposed EU directive[1] on clinical trials are resolved, a leading cancer expert warned today in a news briefing at ECCO12 The European Cancer Conference.

Academic clinical research will grind to a halt under the bureaucratic burden proposed by the EU, according to Jaap Verweij, professor of medical oncology at the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam.

He said that international collaborations on clinical trials were vital for translating the results of laboratory research quickly into benefits for patients. Yet the EU's plans could make such collaborations difficult, if not impossible, thereby stifling important research and condemning many patients to death or years of suffering because they would be unable to benefit from new and better treatments for their cancers.

The discovery of a new and effective treatment for a rare and difficult-to-treat cancer has highlighted the way international collaboration can be translated into benefits for patients in a short time-scale that would be impossible if the research had to be carried out in only one country, said Prof Verweij.

"Sarcomas are a very rare collection of cancers of connective tissues such as bone, muscle, cartilage, fibrous tissue and blood vessels," explained Prof Verweij. "They represent only one per cent of all cancers. One of these is gastrointestinal stromal tumour (GIST), which arises from the connective tissue of the gastrointestinal tract. This is a very difficult cancer to treat successfully and for those patients who cannot be treated by surgery, the prognosis is poor, with an average survival of only one year.

"Recently, scientists recognised that it might be possible to control the disease by inhibiting the c-Kit gene, mutations in which were thought to control GIST. They found

Contact: Emma Mason
Federation of European Cancer Societies

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