Hoping to speed new cancer treatments to patients, the National Institutes of Health and five
major drug makers in July announced $6 million in grants to six cancer centers. The grants seek to improve
patient participation in early clinical trials, the studies that determine whether a new therapy is safe
and effective. UC Davis Cancer Center,
the only center in California to receive one of the grants, was awarded funding for a $1.1-million proposal
aimed at overcoming barriers to trial participation.
The grants were awarded by the National Institutes of Health through the National Cancer Institute, in
partnership with Aventis, Bristol-Meyers-Squibb, GlaxoSmithKline, Eli Lilly and Novartis Pharmaceuticals.
Other grant recipients are Massachusetts General Hospital (Harvard University), University of Colorado
Comprehensive Cancer Center, Washington University in St. Louis, University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute
and Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Overall only 3 percent of cancer patients participate in trials, a rate that has not improved in more
than two decades. Low participation rates prolong drug development and delay patient access to potentially
effective new agents.
"We hope our study will play a part in accelerating the pace of clinical trials research nationally,"
says Primo N. Lara,Jr., associate professor of medicine at the UC Davis Cancer Center and principal investigator
of the barriers study.
The UC Davis Cancer Center grant was
announced at back-to-back press conferences in Sacramento and Washington, D.C. Tommy Thompson, secretary
of health and human services, Elias Zerhouni, director of the National Institutes of Health, and Andrew
von Eschenbach, director of the National Cancer Institute, made the announcement at the capital event,
attended by such dignitaries as U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy. California Sen. Deborah Ortiz made the an-
nouncement in Sacramento.
The public-private campaign to increase enrollment in clinical trials is an effort of the Association
of American Cancer Institutes, in collaboration with the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health
and the Friends of Cancer Research, a nonprofit organization headquartered in Washington, D.C., that mobilizes
public support for cancer research funding. More information about these organizations may be found on
their Web sites: http://www.aaci.org; http://www.fnih.org
and http:// www.focr.org.