The RTOGF Research Committee Update
December 19, 2022
Written by Drs. Edwin Posadas & Mark Mishra, RTOGF Research Committee Chairs
As we bring 2022 to a close, we would like to extend an invitation to the RTOG Members to bring concepts and ideas to the new Research Committee. Our plans for the committee involve strengthening interactions with RTOG investigators, particularly new investigators launching their academic careers who have original ideas that we can help move forward into clinical trials. To spark interactions and generate enthusiasm for RTOG Foundation driven studies we have prepared a few points of information in an FAQ format:
- How are RTOG Foundation studies different from NRG studies?
As the one of the bedrock legacy foundations, RTOG is able to open trials through a mechanism that parallels the NRG process. These trials are NOT reviewed by NCI/CTEP and thus can move much faster. Similarly, they do not rely upon the NCI contract budgeting mechanisms. These trials still require adequate scientific rigor and will be reviewed by the Research Committee for scientific quality. Moreover, they will use RTOG Foundation resources (and not the NRG administrative team). Given the absence of the NCI support, however, they do require funding from a sponsor.
- Are there advantages to having trials come through RTOG Foundation rather than NRG?
Yes. Due to the absence of the lengthy NCI processes, RTOG foundation trials can move faster. Moreover, the reimbursements for the trials are not fixed by the NRG contract so participants can see higher per patient reimbursements that will ultimately depend upon how the contract is negotiated with the external sponsor.
- Our disease committee has a full queue of trials that are going through the NRG/CTEP review process.Does this prevent me from bringing a trial to RTOG Foundation?
No. RTOG trials use RTOG resources which are separate from those allocated for your disease committee. If the trial is deemed scientifically meritorious and there is external funding your group will receive additional support for RTOG Foundation studies.
- Why should RTOG Foundation trials appeal to external sponsors since they have to pay more?
RTOG Foundation trials offer speed with the same expertise that NRG trials offers. For many sponsors, the trade-off of a more expensive contract for a faster answer will be appealing.
- Do RTOG Foundation studies provide credit towards our NRG participation?
YES. The RTOG board has been able to provide participation credits under particular circumstances for accruals to RTOG foundation studies. Your site must still accrue to NRG studies but RTOG F studies can be used to count toward a portion of your institutions required NRG accruals.
- What kind of trials is the RTOG Research Committee seeking?
Ultimately, we are looking for high quality scientific studies that will impact the field.Good opportunities include those where there is a pharmaceutical or biotech sponsor who is trying to evaluate a new therapeutic approach that is centered on providing therapeutic radiation. An example is RTOG 3506 (STEEL) which evaluates the benefit of adding medical (hormonal) therapy to salvage radiation in patients who are being treated for prostate cancer which has relapsed after radical prostatectomy. This trial is a partnership with Pfizer and Astellas and met full accrual ahead of schedule during the COVID pandemic. The sponsors have viewed this as a highly successful collaboration with RTOG Foundation.
- As a young investigator, can RTOG Foundation help me to accelerate my career?
ABSOLUTELY. The Research Committee recognizes that the RTOG Foundation is rich with talented and highly motivated young investigators who are going to change the face of oncology care.A big part of success as a clinical investigator is demonstrating the ability to work in multi-site trials that are highly impactful to the field.Since many cooperative group studies (especially those outside of NRG) are driven by very senior investigators, junior investigators are overlooked.RTOG Foundation studies will require the participation of a junior/young investigator in a meaningful way.
We hope this FAQ is helpful. More importantly, we would like to rally our RTOG members to support the Legacy Foundation which shaped the field of radiation therapy.
Wishing you all blessings, happiness, and prosperity in the Christmas and Holiday Season and in the new year!
Mark & Edwin