advanced bowel cancer

The 2023 Late-Stage Colorectal Cancer Idea Generation Workshop

This year’s Idea Generation Workshop was held on Friday 19 May, facilitated by A/Prof Cherry Koh and Dr Sina Vatandoust. The focus was on developing clinical trials in late stage colorectal cancer. Concepts were presented across medical oncology, radiation oncology, surgery and nutrition, and the attendees discussed how each could be developed and progress into recruiting studies.

Launched in 2019, the Idea Generation Workshop serves as a platform to elevate ideas and encourage participants to offer constructive advice, as well as ways of improving the proposed ideas. The workshops enable us to deliver on our strategic goals to accelerate the pace of discovery and connect researchers, especially early career researchers.

As one of this year’s presenters Dr Mark Nalder said, “AGITG has been supportive and successful in turning many ideas into practice changing trials. As an early career researcher, I hope to receive feedback and guidance for my idea from a team of multi-disciplinary experts.”

Participants were invited to consider the many aspects of the ideas presented, including potential impact, scientific excellence, requirements to ensure its success, potential to become AGITG studies and more. The participants then had to vote and also indicate their interest in assisting to refine and improve the proposed studies.

Take a look below at a snapshot of each idea presented on the day:

Idea 1: Presented by Prof Vicki Whitehall

OPTIC Trial – Organoids to Predict Therapy response In Colorectal cancer liver metastases

The liver is the most common site for colorectal cancer metastasis (~70%). At the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, 25% of patients with metastatic colorectal cancer undergo hepatectomy to remove metastatic deposits, but relapse is common in this patient population. Functionally informing choice of therapy may be particularly impactful for these patients for targeting already disseminated micrometastases.

The primary outcomes of this non-interventional, feasibility study will be success rate of establishing metastatic organoids and timeframe required for predictive drug testing. A secondary outcome will be clinical concordance with predicted drug sensitivity.

Idea 2: Presented by Dr Vanessa Wong

ATACC – Accelerating biomarker testing, Targeted therapy Access and targeted therapy trials in rare subsets of metastatic Colorectal Cancer

“The ATACC study aims to demonstrate the feasibility of biomarker identification within an actively recruiting nation-wide registry by funding staged biomarker testing, then alerting clinicians to targeted drug access programs. We will be using the biomarker NTRK fusion and TRK inhibitor, larotrectinib as the proof of concept model. Data such as real world patient, tumour, treatment and survival outcome characteristics for patients with NTRK fusion metastatic colorectal cancer will also be analysed. Our hope is that ATACC will become a novel study platform to enhance biomarker targeted treatment for Australian metastatic colorectal cancer patients.”

Idea 3: Presented by Dr Yoko Tomita

Repurposing the anti-anginal drug perhexiline for late line metastatic colorectal cancer

“We are proposing to combine anti-angina medication perhexiline with oxaliplatin chemotherapy, a commonly used chemotherapy drug in advanced colorectal cancer, to improve its anti-cancer activity. We are hopeful to define the patient population which may benefit the most from combined perhexiline and oxaliplatin therapy and to find resources needed to perform preclinical biomarker analysis to identify such group of patients.”

Idea 4: Presented by Dr Alex Flynn


“Colorectal cancer is prevalent with 5-FU being the most effective chemotherapy. We currently determine the dose of 5FU using a patient’s height & weight, however a new finger prick blood test, taken while a patient is having chemotherapy, can determine the unique and optimal dose for each patient. Our clinical trial will determine whether using this new personalised dosing method will improve the survival of patients with metastatic colorectal cancer.”

Idea 5: Presented by Dr Mark Nalder

The role of immunotherapy in MSS metastatic colorectal cancer

“My idea is to combine targeted radiation therapy with immunotherapy and another medication in an aim to improve survival for patients with late-stage Colorectal Cancer who may have minimal other treatment options.”


Progressing the workshop ideas

Proceeding the workshop, the ideas presented will be developed further with the support of the Concept Development groups, before being presented to the Lower GI Working Party. The AGITG members in attendance were impressed with the ideas generated from the day, and look forward to progressing these concepts further.


Learn more about our Idea Generation Workshops