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BOX 7.2

CaP CURE: An Innovative Approach to Accelerating Research

CaP CURE was founded in 1993 to develop a scientific strategy that would accelerate the development of effective therapies for prostate cancer and get help to the men who need it. It is now the world's largest private source of prostate cancer research funding, and it has provided more than $65 million in support for over 450 projects in the past six years. CaP CURE has worked together with survivors, scientists, and advocates to establish a system that encourages collaboration, reduces bureaucracy, and speeds the process of discovery. CaP CURE reaches out to private industry, the patient advocacy community, and government research institutions. These partnerships provide a model to accelerate progress in developing treatments for specific diseases.

Research is funded through competitive awards, based on the peer-review model used at NIH and similar to that used by the MS Society. In addition, CaP CURE has established a fast-track grant review and award process as a central feature of its mission. Applications are limited to five pages in length, and awards are made within 90 days of the deadline for applications. The approach appears to have paid off. Applications for competitive awards have increased nearly sixfold, from 86 to 570, in the last five years. Moreover, in 1993, only 10 percent of the research awards had near-term clinical application, compared with more than 70 percent in 1997. Significant results are claimed: at least 80 CaP CURE-sponsored projects, ranging from gene therapy to therapies targeting the androgen receptor, are now making their way into clinical trials. In 1998, CaP CURE introduced young investigator awards to provide stable, four-year funding for outstanding young physician-scientists attracted to the prostate cancer field.

The CaP CURE Therapy Consortium, which consists of three teams of scientists, is dedicated to rapidly incorporating discoveries. Physicians in the consortium work at 11 medical centers across the United States, testing new treatments for men with advanced prostate cancer. The consortium creates new clinical trials, recruits participants, shares results, and attracts pharmaceutical and biotechnology sponsors. CaP CURE consortium researchers face vastly fewer administrative hurdles than government-sponsored cooperative groups do, which means that they can evaluate exciting therapeutic agents with much less delay. Researchers associated with CaP CURE cite the greater involvement of patients in clinical trials and the network of clinicians engaged in the clinical trial as important factors in the recently accelerated progress of prostate cancer research, also claiming that CaP CURE has significantly shortened the time required to develop new treatments. Kenneth Pienta, M.D., of the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center notes, “In the past when I would design a new therapy, it would take me two years to test it in my own clinic. Now with the consortium, we can test these things in six months.”

CaP CURE has been working with computer engineers from Oracle Corporation to develop a database that will allow scientists at each individual institution to compare and analyze findings at trials across the country. As with most clinical research, data are presently stored and tabulated at each individual institution (but see description of the IBMTR-ABMTR transplantation database in Chapter 6). CaP CURE has brought a spirit of innovation to a field that, in the past, has been criticized for discouraging new thinking.

SOURCE: Stokstad, 1999,18 (World Wide Web, accessed 12/1/ 2000).

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