NCRI has published a report outlining key points from the Beyond the Horizon: ‘Bridging the translational gap’ event.

The development of effective novel cancer therapeutics has not kept pace with the rate of basic research discoveries. This, in part, can be attributed to a series of translational gaps along the drug development pipeline, the first of which is defined as the translation of findings from basic science into clinical research.

The aim of the event was to identify the common factors preventing the transfer of innovative research findings into clinical application, and what changes the research community implement to help bridge the gap.

The event, the second in the Beyond the Horizon series, brought together expert panellists and over 100 delegates from across the research community. In a series of open and insightful panel sessions, broad solutions needed to bridge the translational gap were discussed. This report summarises the key themes and recommendations.

The central issue is communication – between laboratory scientists and clinicians, between academia and industry. We need to understand each others’ problems and to collaborate more effectively towards our shared objective of patient benefit. This needs time, energy and motivation – all of which have been sapped through increasingly intensive clinical working and siloed activities during the pandemic.

Professor Tim Maughan, Chair

The summary report brings together key questions and insights from the event discussions, stakeholder consultations and audience questions and follow-up comments, which converge into four cross-cutting themes:

  • Making use of big data
  • Ensuring new innovations are trialled in the right patients
  • Overcoming the cultural divide between the lab and the clinic
  • Creating a funding continuum

In each endeavour – whether it be enhanced access to data, integration of multi-omics and digital pathology into clinical research and practice, or driving therapeutic innovation – we need to overcome disciplinary boundaries to engage in collaborative team science. Both industry and our cancer funders need to consider how to enable true collaboration to overcome the challenge of translating new approaches into the clinic.

Professor Tim Maughan, Chair

Beyond the Horizon is an NCRI led initiative to define the current and future challenges and the transformational changes needed across cancer research.

The topic was identified following the first Beyond the Horizon event titled ‘Innovative cancer drug discovery’, in which bridging the translation gap was identified as a key area need to transform current drug discovery efforts.

Read the report