An NCRI CTRad Working Group has published a landmark paper in Nature Reviews Clinical Oncology setting out consensus recommendations to increase the number of novel drugs being successfully used in combination with radiotherapy to improve clinical outcomes for patients with cancer.

Radiotherapy is one of the most potent and cost effective treatments for cancer and technical advances over the past decade have heralded improvements in tumour control and toxicity. Using traditional chemotherapy in combination with radiotherapy has been an established form of cancer therapy for many years, however there has been little progress in exploring the potential of combining newer, targeted systemic cancer therapies with radiotherapy to improve cancer treatments.

The consensus recommendations are the first ever to be published on this topic that represent a broad base of expert opinion – spanning academia and pharma.

» Read the consensus recommendations in Nature Reviews Clinical Oncology (open access)

Nicola Keat, Head of NCRI’s Clinical Research Groups said, “The consensus paper represents the opinion of over 30 experts in the fields of radiotherapy, drug development and cancer research on overcoming barriers to clinical research using novel drug-radiotherapy combinations. Not only is it an important step forward for future research and development in this area, it also represents the power of collaboration across a diverse set of stakeholders – which is something the NCRI works to harness throughout the UK cancer research community.”

The authors of the paper hope that these recommendations will pave the way for an increase in the number of novel drugs being successfully registered in combination with radiotherapy. By providing the guidelines to overcome common challenges to performing research in this area, they seek to encourage the research community to consider drug-radiotherapy combinations as early as possible during the development process and to promote early dialogue between academia, regulators and industry.

» For insight and comment around the recommendations set out in the paper, see Cancer Research UK’s blog

Bringing the research community together to make progress: how the consensus recommendations came to be

In 2014 NCRI CTRad held a workshop with over 30 expert representatives from academia, biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, patient groups and regulatory bodies, to identify both barriers and solutions to increasing the number of clinical trials using drug-radiotherapy combinations. The attendees of the workshop formed a Working Group – the NCRI CTRad Academia Partnership Working Group – to take forward action in this area. In 2015 the Working Group came together to further define the areas previously discussed and to develop a set of balanced and evidence-based consensus recommendations that will enable the research, regulatory and biotechnology and pharmaceutical communities to collaborate on research using novel drug-radiotherapy combinations.

About NCRI CTRad

NCRI runs an evolving programme of initiatives to address research gaps or barriers and capitalise on scientific opportunities that are too large or complex to be taken forward by one organisation alone. One of these strands of work is in radiotherapy and is known as NCRI’s Clinical and Translational Radiotherapy Research Working Group (CTRad). Established in 2009, CTRad is a working group that brings together many research specialities to shape and grow the national radiotherapy research agenda through developing high-quality research, developing infrastructure and exploiting opportunities. CTRad is funded by a subset of NCRI Partners: Cancer Research UK, Medical Research Council, Department of Health, Scottish Government Health and Social Care Directorates (Chief Scientist Office), Welsh Assembly Government (Health and Care Research Wales) and Northern Ireland Health and Social Care Public Health Agency (Research & Development Department).

» Find out more about NCRI’s CTRad (NCRI webpage)