Dear friends and colleagues
As 2019 draws to a close I take time to reflect on the 15 years since the inception of the Australasian Lung Cancer Trial Group (ALTG). The membership has grown from 70 founding members to over 850 members, representing the full range of professional disciplines involved in caring for patients with lung cancer, clinical trial professionals and consumer representatives. This representation is important to ensure a clinical trial program that addresses clinical questions that can make a difference to patients.
Since commencement in 2004, the ALTG has completed 7 trials and 3 pilot studies. Through study endorsement, ALTG members have helped accrue patients to 11 trials led by other groups, primarily the Trans Tasman Radiation Oncology Group (TROG) and the Psycho-oncology Co-operative Research Group (PoCoG). ALTG currently has approximately 7 trial concepts in development. Completed trials have been either published in scientific journals or presented at leading conferences, with publications of the BR.26 and MATES trial in The Lancet and an oral presentation at ASCO 2018 for the DREAM trial as particular highlights.
International collaborations have been established in North America, Asia and Europe, and ALTG has led the development of the Thoracic Alliance for Clinical Trials (TACT), an international non-profit umbrella organisation for worldwide academic groups dedicated to thoracic oncology research.
The ALTG has been ably led by three former presidents- Professor Kwun Fong, Professor Michael Millward and Associate Professor Paul Mitchell. The ALTG has also benefited from partnerships with commercial, philanthropic and government organisations, providing infrastructure support and assistance with delivery of successful educational events such as the Lung cancer symposium, the ALTG annual scientific meeting (ASM) and the lung cancer preceptorship.
This year has also brought many new initiatives for the ALTG and lung cancer research overall. In September, Cancer Australia announced a national enquiry into a lung cancer screening project. This is a marked success following on from ‘Free from Stigma’ campaign and other advocacy activities undertaken by Lung Foundation Australia (LFA). More details on the enquiry can be found here.
The ALTG is also pleased to announce that it has secured funding for an international multi-centre Phase III trial evaluating upfront immunotherapy (durvalumab) in mesothelioma, DREAM3R, led by Professor Anna Nowak, in collaboration with the leading US trials group, PrECOG. The trial is expected to open during the first half of 2020.
During February 19-21, 2020, the ALTG will host its ASM in conjunction with Australian Lung Cancer Conference 2020. The ASM will include open meetings to develop clinical trial concepts and a strategic planning session that I encourage you to attend if you would like to have a say in the strategic direction of the ALTG for the next 5 years. The conference program will begin on 20 February 2020, and notable speakers include Dr. Marina Chiara Garassino and Dr. Federico Cappuzzo. Please consider submitting an abstract with the submission deadline now extended until 30 November 2019. Early bird registrations close on 19 December 2019.
One of the strengths of the ALTG is its strong, collaborative and multidisciplinary membership with a strong group emphasis on member engagement and participation. Besides participating in ALTG Committees, and helping to accrue patients onto trials, we currently have opportunities for you to participate in the protocol development working group or to become involved with the design of the new website, and eventually participate in an overarching communications, marketing and engagement strategy.
A/Prof Nick Pavlakis