“I think it’s a way to get as much value as you
possibly can from clinical trial data,” says Vivli’s
director of strategy and operations, Julie Wood.
“Patients who are involved in a clinical trial are
volunteering to take a risk on behalf of everyone to
really drive science forward.” Wood believes there
is a “moral obligation” to do as much as possible
with the information collected during a trial.
Over 100 cancer studies have already been added
to Vivli’s platform. Wood thinks trials that aren’t
directly linked to cancer could also benefit from
oncology research. Part of the appeal of having easy
access to a wide range of prior research is the potential for unexpected discoveries that could occur
when other work is cross-referenced, she says.
From the Food and Drug Administration’s
attempts to compel investigators to share their
results, to online platforms that make it easy to
access this information, the groundwork is being
laid to ensure that in the future, trial data isn’t
In some cases, researchers have one eye on
tomorrow even as they’re in the midst of a study.
The National Clinical Trials Network (NCTN)
Navigator program, launched by the NCI in April
2018, makes specimens from clinical trials dating
back to the 1990s available internationally to
researchers conducting studies. “In many cases,
trials in the NCTN collect specimens to bank
specifically so that they are available for future
research that is unknown at the time of the trial,”
says Grace Mishkin, a public health analyst for the
NCI’s Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program. “Some
research questions are developed early on, but
often we don’t know what the best research would
be until we have the trial results.”
It’s possible to preserve specimens long after a
clinical trial has concluded and to archive huge
amounts of data in digital form. Crucially, these
resources can be tracked via online records so
that scientists all over the world are able to use
them. From the range of clinical trials available
to patients to the clinical trial data available to
researchers, new tools have made it possible to sift
through huge amounts of information to find some-
thing that could be vitally important to a scientist’s
work or to a patient’s health.
BRADLEY JONES is the associate editor of Cancer Today.
It's possible to preserve specimens long after
a clinical trial has concluded and to archive
huge amounts of data in digital form.
Clinical trials could become more inclusive by making it easier for
prospective participants to find out about trials they are eligible for
and reducing the geographic barriers to taking part in them.
Research published in Cancer on March 18, 2014, stated that, with
the possible exception of Native Americans and Alaska Natives,
racial and ethnic minority groups were underrepresented in clinical
trials relative to the proportion of the general population they
“Having a representative population enrolled in clinical trials
is essential to evaluate whether treatments are effective in all
populations, or whether they might be more or less effective in
certain populations,” says Grace Mishkin, a public health analyst
for the National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Therapy Evaluation
Program. —B. J.