Trials Where They Make Sense


Applied Clinical Trials

Applied Clinical TrialsApplied Clinical Trials-05-01-2008
Volume 0
Issue 0

Oncology trials in the community are making strides for one research network.

Oncology trials in the community are making strides for one research network.

ACORN Community Oncology member practices consist of over 30 locations and 350 network oncologists.

The Accelerated Community Oncology Research Network (ACORN), a national oncology clinical trial network, recently achieved two important milestones. The first is a doubling from its projected number of studies for 2007; the second, a doubling of the national average of African-Americans enrolled in its oncology studies.

Steve Coplon, chief executive officer of ACORN, told Applied Clinical Trials that its network model of community-based oncology clinics is the reason for these performance numbers. "We have oncologists that want to do the best trials and be involved in the major advances in oncology, including the new molecules and combination therapies." The oncologists, with access to the patients in the community—on average, 85% of oncology patients nationwide receive their care in a community center—can then utilize the centralized CRO services offered by ACORN to help make clinical trial conduct more seamless.

The CRO portion of ACORN launched two years ago. It includes centralized clinical trial services, scientific analysis, and provides contract and budgeting services; subject accrual services at the site level; and data collection and monitoring. "Because we have been practicing cancer care in the community for a number of years, on our CRO side we then understand what it takes to make clinical trials more effective. We understand Medicare, and what it will cover, and issues like that," explained Coplon. For him, however, the ultimate compliment came from one network oncologist, who said: "You make research easier." That physician, said Coplon, wouldn't have the time to do the administrative work required for clinical research in his busy clinic.

ACORN has about 25 lead oncologists who champion clinical trials, with access to over 350 networked colleagues. "Not all centers do the same trials. They go to where they are effective," said Coplon.

Coplon said it exceeded 100 trials in various stages in 2007. "We tend to look at trials in cycles of 24 months—open, close, accrual." The first quarter of 2008 is also on track to meet or exceed trial projections.

Although many patients may be interested in participating in an oncology clinical trial, Coplon named three obstacles to that participation: trial availability in that community; physician participation in the trial; and finally, being able to meet the criteria. "We have doubled—and in some cases tripled—our accrual in adult populations," said Coplon. In 2007, African-Americans accounted for 20% of ACORN's patients. And while African-Americans make up 12.9% of the U.S. population, NCI data show that they represent only 7.46% of clinical trial participants. Coplon attributes ACORN's success on this minority enrollment to education and access. "We are focused on educating patients and to help them understand what a clinical trial is and the care they will receive," said Coplon.

With ACORN's care continuum, it is also able to provide analysis from its data warehouse of both clinical trial data and patient reported outcomes. This capability, according to Coplon, allows ACORN to see differences both scientifically and from a patient perspective. He adds: "It is a unique capability." ACORN is on the Web at

For more topics related to oncology and clinical trials, please see the supplement "Oncology & Clinical Trials in the 21st Century" enclosed with this issue, or visit us on the Web at—

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