October 18, 2018
2 min read

Partnership aims to bring early-phase trials to more patients

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Marc Matrana

PHOENIX —A partnership between Ochsner Health System and Translational Genomics Research Institute, or TGen, brought phase 1 and phase 2 clinical trials to patients across Louisiana who may not have had access otherwise, according to a presentation at the Association of Community Cancer Centers National Oncology Conference.

“Clinical trials are critically important for [patients with cancer],” Marc Matrana, MD, MSc, FACP, director of the Ochsner Precision Cancer Therapeutics Program, said during his presentation.

“Standard of care really is clinical trials,” he added. “If you’re not offering clinical trials to your patients, I would say you’re not meeting standard of care for your patients.”

Setting up a clinical trial program is hard work, according to Matrana. The requirements include:

  • medical, nursing and regulatory affairs expertise;
  • dedicated physical facilities;
  • administrative support;
  • special equipment for specimen processing and labs; and
  • networks of contacts and industry partners.

Through the partnership with TGen — an Arizona-based nonprofit medical research institute —Ochsner was able to gain advice, guidance and industry contacts to launch the clinical trial program.

“Building an early-phase research program is not a small undertaking at all. It’s back-breaking, to be quite honest with you,” Matrana said. “But, finding the right partners to collaborate can make it possible, even for a medium-sized cancer center.”

Since launching the program, Ochsner hired dedicated personnel, expanded lab and administrative space, and conducted marketing and outreach to gain financial support and garner referrals.

Ochsner — a Louisiana-based, not-for-profit academic hospital system — now has 50 early-phase trials open with dozens in the pipeline. The system exceeded all annual goals with patient enrollment, number of trials opened this year and total number of trials open.

Through a partnership with the Strata Oncology and the Strata trial, Ochsner Health System is able to offer free next-generation genomic sequencing to all patients with advanced cancer. This sequencing data allows the precision medicine program to stratify patients for early-stage trials.

“Building an effective and collaborative multidisciplinary team is essential. Organization and constant communication are key,” Matrana said. “Weekly rounds, regular pipeline meetings, steering committee meetings and other regularly scheduled meetings with clear goals, agendas and guidelines have been key to group cohesion and smooth program operations, which is necessary to make all of this work.”


For more information:

Visit www.ochsner.org/earlyphase.



Matrana M. Partnering to deliver precision cancer therapy in the community. Presented at: ACCC National Oncology Conference; Oct. 17-19, 2018; Phoenix.

Disclosure: Matrana reports consultant roles with AstraZeneca, Bayer, Bristol-Myers Squibb, EMD Serono and Pfizer, and speaker bureau roles with AstraZeneca, Astellas, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Eisai, Genentech, Merck and Sirtex.