Meet the mastermind behind an international trial investigating transformative treatment options.
This year, in collaboration with US group PreCOG, the Phase III international mesothelioma trial DREAM3R will open. Co-chair of the Australasian Lung Cancer Trial Group’s (ALTG) mesothelioma group, Professor Anna Nowak, is the brains behind the trial and is playing a crucial role in changing outcomes for one of Australia’s most devastating cancers.
In 2017 and 2018, the ALTG conducted a Phase II clinical trial – the DREAM study – which looked at how safe and effective it was to combine standard treatment involving chemotherapy, with a new immunotherapy treatment called durvalumab in mesothelioma patients. Initial results showed 48% of patients experienced substantial reductions in the size of their tumours and the combination appeared to be effective in controlling the disease.
“We found results from the combination were very provocative– it appears to provide some benefit for patients in terms of tumour shrinkage, how long people live, and how long it takes for the cancer to become a problem again,” Professor Nowak said.
“However, one clinical trial offering the same treatment for everyone participating isn’t enough to demonstrate that we really have something that is a true advance. To confirm this in any medical situation, we need to test the new treatment against the old treatment.”
The DREAM3R study, a Phase III randomized trial, will investigate whether this combination of chemotherapy and immunotherapy is really an effective treatment option.
“If we are able to show that through a proper randomized clinical trial then the benefit to future patients is enormous. It will provide the evidence for the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme to support giving those drugs in combination in mesothelioma. We hope in the future the treatment will benefit so many more people.”
With decades of experience working on clinical trials, Professor Nowak is passionate about the role of consumers in trials and studies.
“I think consumers have a major commitment which is very altruistic, and they have a very clear picture of what is important. Having consumers backing the importance of the questions we’re asking and driving us onward keeps clinicians and researchers very focused on the people behind the research question,” she said.
In 2020, DREAM3R will open in 30 Australian sites, recruiting 480 participants across Australia and the US. To find out more visit altg.com.au.
CTA feature: The ALTG is an initiative of Lung Foundation Australia that was established in 2004. The ALTG unites leading clinicians and researchers from across Australia and New Zealand to design, conduct and analyse clinical trials that will help find new advances in the diagnosis, treatments and management of lung cancer. To find out more about how you can get involved, visit altg.com.au.
$12 million funding boost for ground-breaking study
Over $12 million in funding has been successfully awarded to the ALTG, NHMRC Clinical Trial Centre and the Australian Genomic Cancer Medicine Centre for the ASPiRATION project. The ground-breaking precision medicine study, led by the ALTG, will explore the benefit of routine comprehensive genomic profiling in 1,000 newly-diagnosed metastatic, non-squamous, non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients in Australia. The enhanced genomic profiling will assist in personalising patient care by matching patients to targeted treatments as early as possible to improve patient outcomes. To find out more, visit altg.com.au.