Clinical trials: what’s in store for 2021

Our nurse advisor, Angela Watts, has years of experience in clinical trials. Here, she gives an overview on what blood cancer clinical trials will look like this year.

Clinical trials in 2020 focused solely on COVID-19 research and new treatment options as part of the urgent public health studies. During this time, some of the studies for patients with a blood cancer continued and other studies paused recruitment.

As we prepare to ease lockdown and move in to spring and summer, the NCRI Acute Leukaemia clinical studies continue and remain open for newly diagnosed patients. The studies are continually reviewed and are regularly updated/amended.

The national NCRI chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) study called Flair has recently completed recruitment for patients with a standard risk that would have received FCR chemo, ibrutinib, or ibrutinib with venetoclax. Patients on this study will continue with their treatments and follow ups as planned. A new patient pathway is now available for patients with high risk TP53 mutation or deletion and genetic abnormalities. Patients will have the treatment option of ibrutinib with venetoclax.

Studies that are available for patients with myeloma are the NCRI FITNeSS study which is for patients who are newly diagnosed and who are unable to have a stem cell transplant. The treatment options compare revlamid and dexamethasone with or without ixazomib. Quality of life assessments are also carried out at time points during the treatment pathway.

A further study for patients who have previously been treated with myeloma is also planned to assess patient responses that have received treatment outside of a clinical trial. This is a retrospective study looking at what is termed ‘real world data’ for a treatment called panobinostat. The follow up information will focus upon patients’ visits to hospital and any hospital admissions, and how the treatments impact a patient’s quality of life.

As previously mentioned, clinical studies have focussed on COVID-19 treatment options and vaccination trials. New studies are planned which may provide follow up to these earlier COVID-19 studies of 2020. The aim is to further understand the effects of having a blood cancer and COVID-19, and how this impacted upon an individual’s treatment pathway. During the pandemic, all information was reviewed as part of the urgent public health COVID-19 trials. This included patients admitted to hospital with and without a cancer diagnosis.

Currently, there is extremely limited information regarding the risks posed by SARS-CoV-2 to patients with cancer. The study aims to understand the presentation, management and outcomes of patients with cancer. The influence of cancer type and treatment will be explored, as well as comparing cancer patients with non-cancer patients. This data will provide valuable information that would educate as well as help inform practice for future possible outbreaks. The information may help to produce and develop guidelines for the care and management of patients with COVID-19 and other viruses and infections. This study will be available at multiple sites across the UK.

For patients who would be eligible and wish to participate within our Haematology clinical studies, please ask your local haematology specialist team as they will be able to provide further details.

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