Funda Meric-Bernstam, MD, chair of the Department of Investigational Cancer Therapeutics at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, discusses some of the key aspects of successful trials.
Funda Meric-Bernstam, MD, chair of the Department of Investigational Cancer Therapeutics and medical director of the Institute for Personalized Cancer Therapy at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, discusses some of the key aspects of successful trials ahead of a discussion at the 2021 Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation Annual Conference. Meric-Bernstam is co-chair of the conference.
You’re the moderator for a session on clinical trials in cholangiocarcinoma. What are some of the topics in that discussion you’re most excited to hear about?
Clinical trial enrollment is actually a very complicated aspect in many ways. It's important to think about how to design clinical trials. How do you conduct clinical trials, especially for rare diseases such as cholangiocarcinoma? How do you identify patients? How do you identify centers that can really meaningfully contribute? How do you make sure that everybody's aware of these trials? How do you make sure patients are willing to travel to centers that have trials ongoing, you know, which may not be right in their backyard? How do you make these trials patient friendly? How do you make it so that we can conduct them during, you know, complicated environments like this, when we have COVID and it adds extra challenges to transportation? As well as, for each individual patient, how do they pick a trial? What should they be looking for? How do they really understand what's being offered, and what is the lingo that we use every day, but really, maybe not at all clear? You know, what it is that we're saying?
Also, as a physician, how do we best identify the trial that's going to be most effective for the patient in front of us? Because ultimately, we want to make sure that for each individual patient we're giving the best treatment option and really to determine whether that's a clinical trial or if it's not a clinical trial. Of course, I always advocate for a clinical trial whenever feasible, but making sure that we are looking at the best option for each individual patient. And on the flip side, for each clinical trial, the trial is more likely to be informative if we're doing a better job at matching patients to the mechanism of action of the drugs and really being thoughtful about the microbiology of the tumor and the treatments we're offering. I think these are the many different areas that we're going to cover [this topic] both from a provider standpoint and from a patient consumer standpoint, as well as you're getting an industry perspective on this. So I'm very excited, and I think this is gonna be very fun.