In 2009, Russel Hill Cancer Foundation and Clearview Cancer Institute (CCI) initiated a Phase 1 cancer research program. This program, housed in the CCI complex, was also funded by the Alabama Department of Public Health and the Alpha Foundation.
What is a Phase I clinical trial? It is the first step in an arduous process of drug development from laboratory to first use in humans, with the ultimate goal of achieving FDA approval and universal availability. However, the timeline to FDA approval can be as long as seven years and for many patients this is too long to the wait for a new cancer drug. With Russel Hill Cancer Foundation’s support, Clearview Cancer Institute is able to offer the area’s patients access to these drugs years before they are FDA approved.
This bold, innovative cancer research program provides patients in the area with access to the latest innovations in cancer care through early phase clinical trials, without the burden of traveling to distant locations. In addition, cancer patients from national and international locations have participated in early phase clinical trials at Clearview Cancer Institute.
The high standards and time commitment associated with proper execution of Phase I clinical trials thwart participation by many cancer centers. Historically, Phase I research facilities require philanthropic support. They are found at non-profit and academic hospitals in large cities, even though more than 80% of the cancer patients are treated in the community cancer clinic settings. This results in a de facto limitation of care options imposed by the constraints of travel, when family time is paramount for the cancer patient.
During the fiscal year of 2012, the Russel Hill Cancer Foundation supported the Clincal Trial Program at Clearview Cancer Institute in its primary mission: providing novel therapeutics for patients in the area that would otherwise not be available to them. During this period, the Clinical Trial Facility at CCI enrolled 68 patients in 17 different trials utilizing new agents not yet approved by the FDA. Many of the patients remain on treatment in ongoing remission.
As we look to the future, novel cancer treatments are increasingly targeted to the individual’s malignancy. Therefore, novel treatments are often more effective and less toxic than existing treatments available to the patient with recurrent cancer. Without this Phase 1 program, our families and loved ones with cancer would simply not be afforded the most innovative treatments available.