For the first time ever, SWOG and other investigators in the National Cancer Institute’s National Clinical Trials Network (NCTN) have a pooled share of trial specimens and data to draw from – a big boost to translational medicine research.

The program, NCTN Navigator, has been percolating for quite a while. The NCI, which developed the new database, announced it last month with a major roll-out at the AACR annual meeting in Chicago. NCI’s Cancer Diagnosis Program, in conjunction with the Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program, created it as a way to make specimens and data from decades of NCTN phase III clinical trials accessible in a linked fashion. 

And it’s truly the combination – tissue, blood, and other biospecimens with all the associated short-term and follow-up clinical data – that makes Navigator unique. The collection is pretty impressive already. There’s information from 97 phase III trials, 61,566 patients, and 857,561 specimens. Investigators can search the inventory for specimens with specific characteristics, then request approval to use the specimens and the related outcomes data. In the Navigator announcement, CTEP’s Dr. Jeff Abrams said the database can be used for a variety of purposes – confirming drug efficacy, selecting patients who are likely to benefit from a given treatment, and assessing new methods to monitor the treatment.

Here’s how it works:

• Generate a hypothesis and search the specimens and trial data
here to see if that hypothesis can be tested 
• Submit a letter of inquiry requesting access to the samples and data
• Feasibility review by the NCI’s Group Concierge
• If feasible, investigators will be invited to submit a formal TM proposal for review by the NCI’s Core Correlative Sciences Committee
• If  successful, obtain funding 
• Get your samples and conduct your work!
• Report results and make a difference for our patients

Because the specimens are a limited resource, you should expect a rigorous review. That CCSC review panel, co-chaired by our own Dr. Lee Ellis, is setting a high bar, looking for proposals with potential for high clinical impact.

If you’ve got questions, check out the website at the link above, and review the
excellent FAQ. Or send an email to anivtngbepbagnpg/ng/vzfjro/qbg/pbz