CAREFOR, safeguarding the future of independent academic research in Europe for the benefit of cancer patients
Academic clinical research, or non-commercial research, is crucial for advancing cancer care and must be safeguarded. Academia-based researchers have driven many therapeutic breakthroughs and standards of treatments by validating complex therapeutic strategies from which countless patients across the globe have benefited from practice-changing discoveries. In addition, clinical academic cancer research plays a crucial role in personalised medicine and refining the use of available treatments. It is also critical for advances in rare cancers because the small patient population makes it unattractive for commercial entities to pursue research in this field.
To address current issues related to clinical academic cancer research, CAREFOR, the Clinical Academic Cancer Research Forum, was created as a collaborative initiative in 2014 by ESMO and the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC), and later joined by the European Association for Cancer Research (EACR).
CAREFOR brings together leading experts from Europe with the goal to safeguard and improve the organisation, recognition, and funding of academic clinical research in oncology, and ensure that the EU legislative framework, (e.g. EU Clinical Trials Regulation, EU General Data Protection Regulation) supports the development of academic clinical research.
To achieve its goals, CAREFOR has established 3 working groups to:
- Position academic research in Europe
- Evaluate regulatory frameworks and identify solutions where gaps exist
- Support patient involvement in clinical cancer research
In 2017, CAREFOR published a position paper on Safeguarding the Future of Independent, Academic Clinical Cancer Research in Europe for the Benefit of Patients. The paper outlines the scope of CAREFOR’s goals to address the funding and regulatory challenges of academic research. It also emphasizes CAREFOR’s important role to optimize novel therapeutic multidisciplinary strategies and to investigate important questions related to patient care that are less commercially attractive.
To address the issue of how academic research groups should interact with the industry, CAREFOR published a paper in 2020 on Current models, challenges and best practices for work conducted between European academic cooperative groups and industry. The publication is a product of the work of the CAREFOR-Industry Working Group and provides 4 principles for collaboration:
- Clarify the roles and responsibilities of all partners involved in the study
- Involve legal teams from an early stage
- Acknowledge that data is an important output of the study
- Agree on the intent of the trial prior to its start
Adhering to these principles assists in the design of effective strategies for academia-industry research and clinical trials in order to advance patient care and improve outcomes.