As part of an Australian-first, the clinical trials team at
Orange Health Service is launching Teletrials, which will allow more people
living in rural and regional areas to participate in clinical trials for cancer
Western NSW Local Health District is today (Wednesday 13
December) launching Teletrials which is a brand new approach to running cancer
clinical trials, turning the model upside down.
Dr Rob Zielinski said that the ground-breaking pilot program
is leading the way in clinical trials.
“Instead of patients travelling to the cancer centre for an
experimental treatment, the treatment is being delivered to the patient.
Videoconferencing is enabling patients to be enrolled and treated in their home
location by linking into larger clinical trial sites,” said Dr Zielinski.
“The Teletrials method is a complete paradigm shift and will
open up far more trials testing novel therapies to regional and rural patients.
“To my knowledge this hasn’t been successfully attempted in
Australia or the world. Clinical trials are expensive and are dependent on
infrastructure and human resources so traditionally they have been very city
“The majority of my patients decline a trial in Sydney
because of the travel and costs associated. This is very challenging for me to
accept as a physician and I often ask why my patients must miss out.
“If this Australian-first pilot is successful, the method of
running clinical trials will radically change for ever. The Orange clinical
trials unit is currently in advanced discussions with a Sydney cancer centre to
form a clinical trial network which will open up many more novel cancer
therapies to the patients of the Central West.”
Rare Cancers Australia CEO and co-founder, Richard Vines, said that "we are thrilled to be supporting this world first initiative in clinical trial design. Teletrials allow rural an regional patients a real opportunity to, for the first time, be part of cutting-edge research programs. RCA is proud to be part of it."
One man who knows the impact of travelling is Don Wheeler
who has been travelling to Sydney from Lyndhurst for almost four years to
access an immunotherapy trial.
“I was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer and given six
to twelve months to live and that was four years ago. Now my cancer has reduced
by 95 per cent and I’m stable.
“Since 2013 I’ve travelled almost 50,000km to get to the
clinical trial. That’s about 80 trips to Sydney and it really knocks you
about,” said Mr Wheeler.
“You also have to factor in the cost of food and
accommodation and the toll it takes on your family and yourself.
“In my opinion there are people out there dying who don’t
need to be because at the end of the day you need to have the money to cover
the costs associated with getting to the trial.
The first Teletrial is being coordinated from the Orange
Clinical Trials Unit which was recently awarded the NSW Premiers Award for
outstanding trials unit and will link into Dubbo patients through
During 2017, the Trials Unit has doubled its trials giving
60 per cent more people access to clinical trials. The Australasian
Gastro-Intestinal Trials group awarded the Trials Unit the Outstanding Site
Award for 2017, opening up even more trial opportunities for 2018.