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Why drug trials matter

CCTG scientists have earned a reputation for changing cancer treatment practices around the world. Part of their secret is that they ask the right questions and take a scientific approach to find the right answers.

The CCTG Investigational New Drug (IND) Program identifies newly-developed drugs with potential, and conducts the early trials (Phase I and II) that, if all goes well, pave the way for larger Phase III trials. “If clinical trials are a pyramid, the Phase III trials are the top of the pyramid and the early trials are the base,” Dr. Seymour says. “Without that base, the structure couldn’t stand.”

While pharmaceutical manufacturers do conduct their own clinical trials, CCTG’s IND Program trials are dramatically different. “We ask questions the pharmaceutical companies aren’t asking,” says Dr. Seymour. “The pharmaceutical company asks: Does it work? We ask: Does it work enough? And how can it be given in a way that is most convenient for patients, that has the least toxicity, and leads to the best quality of life?”

With no shareholders to report to and no sales targets to hit, CCTG’s IND Program’s only obligation is to patients and their oncologists. “We have a good reputation,” Dr. Seymour says, “so when CCTG has a good question, even if it’s not of direct interest to a pharma company, they allow us drug access because they know the answers we come up with are the result of high quality research.”

Clinical trials test how well investigational drugs work and whether they are safe to use. An investigational drug may be approved by Health Canada for use in one disease or condition but still be considered investigational in other diseases or conditions.

Phases of a treatement trial