A female clinician explains to another female figure, with her laptop open in front of her.

ASCEND is the first cross-jurisdictional teletrial for SA and NT

We are elated that the ASCEND study, aimed at addressing metastatic pancreatic cancer, is the first ever cross-jurisdictional teletrial for the South Australia and Northern Territory Australian Teletrial Program, as well as for the AGITG.

One-third of all Australians live in rural, regional or remote areas, and experience systemic inequities in cancer care. This can include a lack of capacity or expertise for specialist therapies, longer travel distances for treatments and higher costs over the course of their treatment plan.

As an organisation, the AGITG’s mission is to produce research breakthroughs in GI cancer that are person-centred and practice-changing. To this end, we are committed to embedding equity, diversity and inclusion in our work.

Teletrials are a scientifically proven model of care that connects remote clinical trial sites with a primary trial site. By working with investigators to incorporate teletrials where possible in our studies, we ensure that patients have options.

“We’re implementing ways to make it easier for people to participate in AGITG research, particularly from the ground up,” says Prof Lorraine Chantrill, Chair of the AGITG.

“We need to empower people who know their sites well to modify practices, tailor them to their populations and enable their people to be able to participate on studies, and hopefully share all of those strategies that they’ve created at their sites with all of us.”

Northern Territory Minister for Health Selena Uibo concurs with the need for more accessible cancer treatment options.

“Receiving care closer to home is invaluable to improving health outcomes of Territorians who live in remote locations. These teletrials offer more financially viable access for Territorians to participate in clinical trials,” she said.

“The Territory’s participation in the Australian Teletrial Program will boost our clinical research sector and help improve services and systems in both urban and remote locations.”

“This program will offer greater opportunities for the research workforce to ensure that Territorians receive the same benefits as the rest of Australia.”

Current geographic inequities in cancer care have led to significantly worse health outcomes. While the five-year survival rate for cancer patients who live in major cities is 63%, it is 55% for cancer patients who live in very remote areas.

Royal Darwin Hospital opened as a teletrial site for the ASCEND study in September 2023, and enrolled their first patient within two months.

ASCEND is short for ‘A Randomised, double-blinded phase II study of gemcitabine and nab‐paclitaxel with CEND‐1/LSTA1 or placebo in patients with untreated metastatic pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma’. The study is currently one of five AGITG clinical trials with a teletrial option, alongside ASCOLT, MONARCC, RENO and RESOLUTE.

Another AGITG trial, STOPNET, is currently in development and will include several teletrial sites when it opens later in 2024.

Learn more about AGITG teletrials

Learn more about ASCEND