Expert Reviews in Molecular Medicine

Review Article

Developing translational research infrastructure and capabilities associated with cancer clinical trials

Jacqueline A Halla1 c1 and Robert Browna2

a1 Associate Head of Translational Research, Imaging and Radiotherapy Department, EORTC Headquarters, Brussels, Belgium

a2 Chair in Translational Oncology, Department of Surgery and Cancer, Imperial College London, London, UK

Abstract

The integration of molecular information in clinical decision making is becoming a reality. These changes are shaping the way clinical research is conducted, and as reality sets in, the challenges in conducting, managing and organising multi-disciplinary research become apparent. Clinical trials provide a platform to conduct translational research (TR) within the context of high quality clinical data accrual. Integrating TR objectives in trials allows the execution of pivotal studies that provide clinical evidence for biomarker-driven treatment strategies, targeting early drug development trials to a homogeneous and well defined patient population, supports the development of companion diagnostics and provides an opportunity for deepening our understanding of cancer biology and mechanisms of drug action. To achieve these goals within a clinical trial, developing translational research infrastructure and capabilities (TRIC) plays a critical catalytic role for translating preclinical data into successful clinical research and development. TRIC represents a technical platform, dedicated resources and access to expertise promoting high quality standards, logistical and operational support and unified streamlined procedures under an appropriate governance framework. TRIC promotes integration of multiple disciplines including biobanking, laboratory analysis, molecular data, informatics, statistical analysis and dissemination of results which are all required for successful TR projects and scientific progress. Such a supporting infrastructure is absolutely essential in order to promote high quality robust research, avoid duplication and coordinate resources. Lack of such infrastructure, we would argue, is one reason for the limited effect of TR in clinical practice beyond clinical trials.

Correspondence

c1 Corresponding author: Jacqueline A Hall, Associate Head of Translational Research, Imaging and Radiotherapy Department, EORTC Headquarters, Brussels, Belgium. E-mail: Jacqueline.a.hall@gmail.com