MAY 31, 2007 | A network for sharing cancer research around the world could get Arkansas patients quicker access to new treatments under a grant to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) from the National Cancer Institute (NCI).
Laura Hutchins, M.D., a professor and director of the Division of Hematology/Oncology in the UAMS College of Medicine, has received a more than $120,000 grant for the UAMS Arkansas Cancer Research Center (ACRC) to participate in the cancer Biomedical Informatics Grid (caBIG), a network for connecting teams of cancer and biomedical researchers.
As part of the caBIG initiative, the ACRC is adopting the NCI’s Clinical Trial Management System, a comprehensive set of Web-based tools to handle data for clinical trials in an efficient format. The system will expand the reach of UAMS clinical trials to clinics around Arkansas and beyond the state, allowing more patients to participate in research being conducted at UAMS.
The network, which the NCI calls “a World Wide Web of cancer research,” was created in 2004. It links researchers nationally and internationally to better develop and share information about clinical trials and other work that could accelerate progress in cancer research and treatment.
The new software has now been installed and is being tested, according to Troy Walls, the program director from the UAMS Information Technology Department. Data entry will begin within a few weeks, he said. Eventually, Walls said, the goal is to shift to electronic data entry – from participant information to lab, diagnostic and treatment records – on all of the 232 clinical trials currently open in the ACRC.
Hutchins noted that in some cases, clinical trials were managed with paper records, making it more difficult for large-scale trials outside the research institution. With the Web-based system, clinics and patients around the state will have access to ongoing trials, thus improving access to new cancer treatments as they are being studied.
The caBIG project includes more than 800 individuals at more than 50 NCI-designated cancer centers and 30 other organizations from the public and private sec¬tors, including industry and patient advocacy groups.
“By joining the caBig initiative with other cancer centers across the nation, the Arkansas Cancer Research Center is adding another tool that could help our patients and advance our work toward new cancer treatments,” said James Y. Suen, M.D., professor and chairman of the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery and executive director of the ACRC. “This is a big boost for researchers by improving methods for sharing information, but the most important beneficiaries will be cancer patients.”
Through caBIG’s Web-based components and standardized methods, UAMS researchers will be able to answer questions more rapidly and efficiently.
“Cancer researchers collect large amounts of data but analysis and comparison with the work of other researchers is often difficult because each team may be using different systems or formats for organizing that information,” Hutchins said. “With caBIG, for the first time we will have agreed-upon, common standards across all participants, allowing researchers at different institutions to easily exchange information.”
caBIG will involve the entire cancer research community, including those who conduct basic science research on the origins and mechanisms of cancer; those who study prevention, early detection and treatment; and those who work on clinical trials to bring effective new diagnostics and treatments to patients. With caBIG, basic scientists will be better able to integrate data from their own laboratory, as well as from other research laboratories across the world.
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UAMS Division of Hematology/Oncology:
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