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Clinical trials are integral to Peter Mac’s unique standing as a research-oriented public cancer hospital and the foundation upon which clinical medicine is practised.
There are over 200 clinical trials active in cancer at Peter Mac at any one time. These trials are either investigator-driven, led by clinician-researchers from Peter Mac, or conducted in collaboration with the pharmaceutical industry. Trials commonly involve new cancer medicines, and also examine new approaches to surgery, radiation therapy, supportive care, pain control or ways of imaging and staging tumours.
Peter Mac’s multi-disciplinary clinical trials teams use cutting-edge approaches, including sophisticated cancer imaging technologies to evaluate cellular responses, all in close proximity to research laboratories and clinical areas, encouraging the dynamic exchange of ideas for the benefit of all people with cancer.
As part of a public cancer hospital, which treats around 30,000 cancer patients each year, Peter Mac researchers have direct access to a large number of tumour biopsies, including of rare cancer types, which can be taken at baseline and critical stages of disease progression.
Central to the success of Peter Mac’s clinical trials are many research leaders of world renown. Innovators in their fields, many of these researchers also treat people with cancer; this day-to-day interaction between the laboratory and the clinic energises Peter Mac’s researchers to challenge conventional thinking in the pursuit of safer, gentler and more effective cancer treatments.
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In recent years, clinical trials in which Peter Mac has provided intellectual leadership, was the lead site for, or a major contributor to, and which have led to many world-first research achievements, include:
- discovering that a key dose-limiting side effect of histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDACi), thrombocytopenia, can be overcome through the use of a specific antibody (Professor Ricky Johnstone)
- establishing HDACi as a standard of care in cutaneous T cell lymphoma (Professor Miles Prince AM)
- identifying the P16 gene as a prognostic marker in head and neck cancers (Professor Danny Rischin)
- developing the world’s first radio-protector molecules (Professor Roger Martin)
- inventing new methods of diagnosing cancers of unknown primary (CUP) (Professor David Bowtell)
- establishing imatinib as a global standard treatment for metastatic gastrointestinal tumours and dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans (Professor John Zalcberg OAM / Professor Grant McArthur)
- establishing RANKL as a novel therapeutic for large cell cancer in bone (Associate Professor David Thomas)
- leading world-first clinical trials of ALK inhibitors in lung cancer (Associate Professor Ben Solomon)
- leading world-first clinical trials of BRAF inhibitors in melanoma (Professor Grant McArthur)
- establishing the use of PET as a global standard technique for the staging, treatment planning and response analysis in lung and head and neck cancers (Professor Rod Hicks, Professor Michael MacManus, Professor David Ball)
- establishing rituximab as standard care in the first-line management of patients with advanced follicular lymphoma after chemo-immunotherapy (Professor Miles Prince AM, Professor John Seymour)
- inventing new methodologies for diagnosis of haemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (Professor Joseph Trapani)
- leading practice in the application of brachytherapy in prostate cancer (Associate Professor Scott Williams)
- evaluating the role of further surgery or observation in patients found to have spread of melanoma to their sentinel lymph nodes (Professor Michael Henderson)
- confirming the surgical advantages of robotic resection for rectal cancer (Associate Professor Craig Lynch).
Many trials at Peter Mac are performed through national and international collaborative groups, such as the Australasian Leukaemia and Lymphoma Group (ALLG), Australia and New Zealand Breast Cancer Trials Group (ANZBCTG), Australia New Zealand Gynaecological Oncology Group (ANZGOG), Australian and New Zealand Urogenital and Prostate (ANZUP) Cancer Trials Group, Australian Gastrointestinal Tumour Trials Group (AGITG), Cancer Council Victoria’s Clinical Network (Neuro-oncology Group), Children’s Oncology Group, European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC), and the Trans-Tasman Radiation Oncology Group (TROG).
Peter Mac supports and recommends all patients consider participation in appropriate, ethically approved clinical trials.
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Joining a Peter Mac clinical trial
It is not possible to join a Peter Mac clinical trial without referral from your treating oncologist. View how you can participate in research studies or how to refer a patient to a clinical trial at Peter Mac.
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- Professor Ricky Johnstone
- Professor Danny Rischin
- Professor Roger Martin
- Professor David Bowtell
- Professor Grant McArthur
- Professor David Ball
- Professor Joseph Trapani
- Professor Michael Henderson
- Professor David Thomas
- Associate Professor Craig Lynch
- Professor Rodney Hicks
- Professor John Seymour