December meeting updates

Scientific Advisory Committee meeting

4 December 2020

Innovation Fund recipients

Doctor Lorraine Chantrill, AGITG Chair, announced recipients of the three Innovation Fund grants for 2020:

1: A phase II trial evaluating EGFR inhibition with HDAC inhibition in refractory colorectal cancer (Professor Niall Tebbutt, Professor John Mariadason) $200,000 awarded.

2: Understanding the effect of chemotherapy on microbial composition of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) patients, MASTERPLAN Substudy (Professor David Goldstein) $193,173 awarded.

3: CONTROL NETS TR (Doctor Ben Lawrence)

Doctor Chantrill noted that the highest ranking submission was RESOLUTE (Associate Professor Jeanne Tie). As a Cancer Council VIC grant had been awarded to RESOLUTE after the Grants Committee selection had been made, the third grant for 2020 was to be awarded to the fourth highest ranked concept. $171,863 awarded.



Professor Nick Zeps presented eConsent as a major technological advancement for enhancing the ‘informed’ consent process. eConsent is a tool that can improve the site staff and patient discussion via a wide range of multimedia components such as images, audio, diagrams and a digital signature.

As a result of COVID, electronic platforms to facilitate clinical trial participation have heightened the need for efficient methodologies acceptable by human research ethics committees. eConsent is not simply a lengthy paper document transcribed onto a mobile device. Rather it empowers patients to make informed decisions through the use of interactive, multimedia components, and enables the improved quality and efficiency of clinical trials through insight into the patient experience, improved data quality and a fully electronic system. eConsent is not meant to replace the important discussion between the participant and site staff, as the site will continue to play a critical role in the consenting process.

The Scientific Advisory Committee supported the implementation of eConsent into AGITG trials where feasible.


Research priorities

AGITG surveyed the membership for the important GI cancer research questions for consideration by the SAC. The highest rated priorities for focus in 2021 include:

  • Rare cancers
  • Late-stage colorectal cancer
  • HCC
  • Neoadjuvant treatment in localised tumour sites.

These priorities will inform the themes for the Idea Generation Workshops in 2021, for the purposes of proactively building the clinical trial portfolio, facilitating engagement of our membership and inviting new members to join AGITG.


Idea Generation Workshops

Professor Andrew Barbour reported that the November Idea Generation Workshop was a success, with excellent engagement by participants. Six concepts were discussed in detail, all of which had focused on two closely related topics. The concepts covered biomarker discovery, aggressive nutrition intervention, biomarker-directed therapy and the incorporation of immuno-oncology agents.


Building on this success, three Workshops will be held in 2021.


Joint Working Party meeting

4 December 2020

Tele-Trials: Implementation in AGITG Trials

Doctor Craig Underhill reported on the progress of tele-trials in Australia.

A three-fold increase in the number of regional patients recruited to clinical trials, registry trials and supportive care trials was seen in 2019 compared to 2017, as tracked by the ReViTALISE Network. COVID has helped to fast track the tele-health program and that the tele-trial model has been proven to work successfully. It was cost-effective, built capacity, was acceptable to ethics committees, industry, investigators and patients. It builds capacity and provided opportunity to conduct national studies in rare cancers and small subsets of cancers. International interest has been expressed in the model, particularly from Canada.


Upper GI concepts presented

  • STOP-NET (NETs) – Cessation of Somatostatin analogues after lutetium177 Peptide Receptor Radionuclide therapy
  • NEEDS (oesophageal cancer) – NEoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy for Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma versus Definitive chemoradiotherapy with salvage Surgery as needed
  • CEND-1 (pancreatic cancer) – Randomised, non-comparative, phase 2 study of gemcitabine and nab-paclitaxel with CEND-1/placebo in patients with untreated metastatic PDAC


Lower GI concepts presented

  • FOxTROT-2 (colon cancer) – Phase III randomised controlled trial testing 6 weeks of modified dose OxFp (experimental arm) compared to STS in an older or frail population



Nicky, Philanthropy Manager at the GI Cancer Institute, advised that the Fundraising Team required small-scale pilot studies, sub-studies and translational studies to put forward to major donors. Donors could be patients, families or friends of patients.

Patient stories are another important part of fundraising, as they help the GI Cancer Institute to connect with the donor community on an emotional level. They also put a personal face to the organisation and to the actual disease.


Available Grant Schemes 2020/2021

An MRFF opportunity for 2021 is a grant for the efficient use of using existing medicines / for repurposing an existing drug.

PanKind (new name for the Avner Pancreas Cancer Foundation) has just advertised their open grants.