A recent study examined 787 cancer clinical trials from 2000 to 2011 in the US and found that approximately 1 in 5 was not statistically powered due to insufficient participant enrolment1. Authors identified the requirement for patients to undergo biopsy for tumour tissue samples as an impediment to recruitment. In a related Canadian study at the University of Toronto, researchers found the requirement of tumour tissue to be a barrier for lung cancer patients to enroll in clinical trials from 2010 to 20142. With the evolution of personalized medicine in cancer therapies, availability of tissue samples in clinical trials will be critical moving forward.
Luckily, there are many potential solutions that can be implemented. These include routine tissue banking for all patients at diagnosis, using available diagnostic tissue samples for trials, development of less invasive tests, faster laboratory turnaround time and additional hospital resources. Treatment centres should note the benefits of adopting these new options as they become available, to support continued innovation in cancer therapy.
1) Bennette et al. JNCI. 2016; 108(2): djv324.
2) Lim et al. JTO. 2016; 11:79-84.