FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

General

What is 3CTN?

The Canadian Cancer Clinical Trials Network (3CTN) is a pan-Canadian network designed to strengthen academic-sponsored cancer clinical trials capacity and to improve patient outcomes. The Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR), Canadian Cancer Trials Group (CCTG) and Network of Network (N2) will together function as the 3CTN Coordinating Centre. OICR will be the central coordinating hub and secretariat for a network with centres across Canada. The Coordinating Centre is led by Scientific Director, Janet Dancey, MD, and her team.

How is 3CTN going to work?

3CTN will report to a Council of Funders and will be governed a Steering Committee of experts representing all key stakeholders interested in participating in the Network. We will engage trial leaders within the major geographic regions to function as collaborators.

3CTN will have a central hub based at OICR, which will act as a Coordinating Centre for Network Regional Coordinating Centres (NRCC), Network Cancer Centres (NCC) and Network Affiliated Cancer Centres (NACC) based across Canada. Centres will be led by individuals with the skills and interests to engage and respond to funders, cancer centres, patients and clinical trialists. These groups will contribute to and promote 3CTN portfolio trials, ensure the implementation of Network tools, processes, best practices, and systems, receive funding and resources to ensure the Network portfolio trials can quickly open and accrue patients.

To enable this process, 3CTN will provide funding and support to Network sites. 3CTN will support trial operations, activities and methods to ensure rapid trial execution, including trials with complex correlative studies, to ensure speed, quality and access. The Network will provide clear incentives and address barriers for sites to participate in portfolio trials. We will provide funding, education and training for trial personnel, initially at larger centres, which will be expected to engage smaller centres within their referral areas. 3CTN will work with sites and trial organizations to coordinate activities and use information systems, tools, and templates to facilitate trial activities and rapidly implement strategies to reduce duplicative, non-/minimal valued added trial-related activities.

Why do we need 3CTN?

In 2010, the Canadian Cancer Research Alliance (CCRA) completed a report on ‘The state of clinical trials in Canada’. The report noted that accrual to cancer clinical trials is declining, the time to activate trials has tripled, clinical trial regulations and operations are burdensome, and that there is a recognized need for stable funding and coordination for trials. The report singled out academic clinical trials as being under threat. The stresses within the academic clinical trial system are impairing the execution of research that will translate research discoveries into clinical practice. As a result, clinical trials activity has shifted from academia to the medical products industry and regulatory authorities.

To address these concerns the CCRA report recommended a pan-Canadian approach to support clinical trials infrastructure and to increase recruitment into academic clinical trials. It conducted a peer-reviewed RFA process. 3CTN is the result of this process and has been created to address the concerns identified. The goals of the 3CTN are to create the collaborations necessary to successfully establish a network and develop a portfolio of academic trials, and to support trial operations, activities, and methods to ensure rapid trial execution.

View the Report.

What are the objectives of 3CTN?

The goals and objectives for 3CTN are:

  • To improve patient access to academic clinical trials;
  • To improve site performance of academic trials;
  • To improve the trial environment for the conduct of academic clinical trials through collaboration and facilitation of important national trial initiatives;
  • To demonstrate impact of the Network and academic trials on the Canadian Health System.

How to you plan to achieve these goals?

Since the spring of 2014, we have been working on the implementation of the activities outlined in the business case to ensure 3CTN is effective in strengthening Canada’s capability and capacity to conduct practice-changing cancer clinical trials developed by academics to improve patient outcomes. We will build capacity and support infrastructure with a view to doubling enrolment in, and successful completion of, trials in the coming years.

Who are your partners?

Our partners to date are organizations identified on the RFA to CPAC:

  • Network of Networks (N2);
  • Canadian Partnership Against Cancer (CPAC) and its member organizations;
  • Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR);
  • Canadian Cancer Trials Group (CCTG);
  • Cancer Care Manitoba;
  • Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation;
  • New Brunswick Health Research Foundation.

How will 3CTN be funded?

3CTN will be funded by multiple organizations across Canada, including organizations such as federal cancer foundations, charitable organizations and provincial cancer agencies, who have agreed to invest in the development of academic clinical trials in Canada. With pooled funding 3CTN will be able to address the many challenges faced by cancer clinical research institutions.

Clinical Trials

What is your definition of an academic clinical trial?

Academic trials are defined as those developed by and coordinated by academic investigators. They include trials that are "sponsored" by academic organizations such as universities or cooperative clinical trial groups. These may include trials that are supported by grants from peer-reviewed agencies, charitable funding or by contracts from the pharmaceutical industry but their conduct, analysis and publication lies in the hands of academic investigators.

How is 3CTN different from Canadian Cancer Trials Group (CCTG)?

The CCTG is responsible for developing, monitoring, and reporting on clinical trials. Its focus is on sponsoring clinical trials and on individual investigators. The 3CTN is a pan-Canadian initiative to enable the conduct of academic clinical trials, and providing support to institutions by focusing on supporting clinical trials infrastructure. 3CTN is not intended to replace or compete with the CCTG, it will work in collaboration and in concert with the CCTG to meet the goals of increasing academic clinical trial activity in Canada.

Structure

What is your organizational model?

A Steering Committee of experts representing key stakeholders is responsible for ensuring Network goals and objectives are met. They report, through the 3CTN Scientific Director, to the Council of Funders, which meets quarterly.

How will regional and provincial differences be addressed?

Through regional meetings 3CTN has identified where it can interact, and where there common interests are within the Network. While the focus of 3CTN is not the same, it can enhance what is already ongoing in specific provinces. Furthermore, the provincial and local initiatives and organizations are a part of N2, a national initiative. Communication and support flows from local to provincial to national where appropriate, to ensure convergence and collaboration rather than duplication. On a case by case basis, there may be a possibility to merge existing regional activities.

Will the structure of the Network ensure that knowledge and expertise reaches all across Canada, even to remote locations?

Some areas are too geographically distant from a Network Regional Coordinating Centre (NRCC). 3CTN’s success depends upon building and implementing the right structure. For this reason, the Network is still open to refining the current structure. The overall goal is to create a structure that is functional, financially feasible and provides value for the regions.

What about access to clinical trials?

In some areas patients have no access to clinical trials because they live too far from academic centres. 3CTN recognizes this as a critical question. 3CTN needs to be innovative in the use of technology and other means to correct this and provide broader access.

How will support from regional funders be targeted?

3CTN will set up face-to-face meetings with individual funders and this will be a key discussion point with each specific funder.

Who is on the 3CTN steering committee?

The 3CTN is governed by a Steering Committee of experts representing key stakeholders, including funders, coordination sites, and lay representatives.The Steering Committee is comprised of the following:

  • Chair;
  • Vice-chair;
  • Executive Director (ex officio);
  • Chair of the Portfolio Committee
  • Regional Trial Leaders
  • Clinical Research Associate Representative
  • Patient/Lay Representative
  • Funders Representative

What is a NRCC?
The NRCC works with 3CTN centres within the region to implement Network initiatives, tools, best practices, SOPs, and to increase efficiencies and of trial activities. The NRCC is responsible for the following:

  • Represent the region on the 3CTN Steering Committee;
  • Communicate network priorities, objectives, and activities to regional members, institutions, regional funders, ministries of health, and patient/lay organizations.

How many NRCCs are in the Network ?

In some instances, NRCCs represent a single province. In some provinces the population distribution is such that some provinces have joined forces under one NRCC. In total seven NRCCs represent the country with our Network.

What is an NCC?

A Network Cancer Centre (NCC) is a large centre with broad clinical trial capabilities. The NCC’s role is to ensure centre participation and performance, and to increase trial participation, as well as reporting to 3CTN, monitoring trial activities within the NCC. The NCC team also implements Network initiatives, tools, best practices, SOPs, and communicates 3CTN activities within the centre, its referring centres, and stakeholder groups.

The responsibilities of the NCCs are:

  • To collaborate with the NACC to meet Network trial and accrual targets;
  • To manage the centre to meet performance metrics, reporting of metrics, and management of funding;
  • To assist with the initiation of portfolio trials and monitor trial activity within the cancer centre;
  • To implement Network initiatives, tools, best practices, standard operating procedures;
  • To communicate 3CTN activities within the centre.

What is an NACC?

A Network Affiliated Cancer Centre (NACC) is a centre with smaller numbers of patients to recruit to trials and more limited clinical trial capabilities. NACCs play an important role in the network by directly participating in Network portfolio trials.

The responsibilities of the NACC teams are:

  • To represent the centre within the 3CTN;
  • To collaborate with the NCC to meet Network trial and accrual targets;
  • To manage the centre to meet performance metrics, reporting of metrics, and management of funding;
  • To assist with the initiation of portfolio trials and monitor trial activity within the cancer centre;
  • To implement Network initiatives, tools, best practices, standard operating procedures;
  • To communicate 3CTN activities within the centre.

What is the process to become an NRCC/NCC/NACC?

NRCC - These centres were accepted through an RFA process that was closed on June 30, 2014. A rigorous and transparent review process was conducted by a panel of reviewers and NRCCs were notified of their successful application in August of 2014. In total, seven NRCCs have been established throughout Canada.

NCC - Interested Cancer Centres that fulfilled the criteria of an NCC were invited to submit an application. The NCC RFA closed on June 30, 2014. A panel of independent experts reviewed the NCC applications and sites were notified of their successful application in August 2014.

NACC - The first round of NACC applications have been received in response to an RFA that closed December 10, 2014. This first round of applications will be supplemented by a second RFA to be released in April 2015. Please return after April 2015 for further details on the next RFA.

Reviewers have been / will be looking for quality of the applicant, team and site organization, training environment, feasibility and soundness of the business plan, metrics, deliverables, institution commitments and budget.

As result of the review, final recommendations for NRCC, NCC and NACC designation are made to the 3CTN Steering committee

3CTN Portfolio

What is the Portfolio?
The Portfolio is a database of academic clinical trials ongoing in Canada. The portfolio database is a public, searchable database, and will consist of high quality academic clinical research studies that are eligible for support from the 3CTN.

What will it mean for a trial to be included in the portfolio?

The portfolio will be comprised of clinical trials of high priority and of academic significance that will translate into better treatment for patients, as determined by the Portfolio Committee. Once a trial is included in the Portfolio, the NCCs and NACCs will be notified and are encouraged to and supported in recruiting patients to these important trials and will in turn receive funding toward their centre.

Who is on your Portfolio Committee?

The Portfolio Committee is comprised of the following:

  • Chair;
  • 3CTN Scientific Director;
  • Manager, Operations (Secretariat for the Trial Portfolio);
  • Laboratory Translational Researcher;
  • Health Service Researcher;
  • Clinical Research Associate;
  • Patient/Lay Representative;
  • Clinicians