When the NCI reorganized the NCTN, it was interested in developing core service teams.

I’m particularly impressed with IROC, the Imaging and Radiation Oncology Core. Our relationship actually goes back a decade, long before IROC earned core status. Radiation oncologists at The Ohio State University worked with Dr. Oliver Press on S0816, the advanced Hodgkin lymphoma trial which showed that using PET imaging to guide chemotherapy treatment significantly increases the remission rate while decreasing toxicity.

Today, IROC staffers continue to improve our trials. IROC was involved in some of the very interesting results we will present next month at ASH in Orlando. I can’t tip my hand because of the conference embargo policy, but I can tell you we just may change the standard of care again.

In both the Press trial, and our new one 10 years later, IROC provided case review. We use a central team of radiologists to read scans, ensuring consistency; remarkably they deliver in real time.

Case review is just one service IROC offers SWOG and our peers in the NCTN. Dr. Michael Knopp, co-principal investigator of IROC and director of the Wright Center of Innovation in Biomedical Imaging at The Ohio State University, presented on IROC services to our Board of Governors in Chicago last month.

I wanted to share some points from that presentation with all SWOG members, to remind you of their capabilities and perhaps inspire new ideas. Along with case reviews for trials, IROC can provide:

  • Site qualification: Ensuring sites have the appropriate imaging technology for NCTN trials
  • Trial design: Serving as advisors to help you achieve your scientific goals through design
  • Credentialing: Ensuring that staff and facilities meet NCI standards
  • Data management: Reviewing and managing trial data to ensure validity

SWOG relies on IROC in other ways. IROC helped devise data management strategies and assists in data collection for our Lung-MAP precision medicine trial. S1404, Dr. Ken Grossmann’s melanoma trial, heavily used PET, CT and MRI scans. IROC provided case review and data analytics.

These services are aimed at one thing: Assuring high quality trial data. That’s the IROC mission. But IROC also works to spur innovation. By providing radiomic capabilities, it’s creating a link between molecular diagnostics and diagnostic imaging – another key to precision medicine. It offers advanced imaging and 3D imaging analysis that can help with complex lesions. It is taking advantage of technology that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze data at a much faster pace.

“The more we use AI to automate tasks that normally require an intelligent person, the more we free up the intelligent person to perform another task,” Knopp says. “AI allows us not to do the boring things.”

Now that IROQ has been around for a while, it’s amassing a huge public catalogue of images in conjunction with The Cancer Imaging Archive. And that, Knopp says, is yet another asset to scientists. The archive, like our biospecimen bank, is a treasure trove for researchers who can use old images to ask new questions. “Unlike blood or tissue, images are reusable,” Knopp reminds. “We will never run out.”

We, and the NCTN, are lucky to have this valuable resource.