Apr 04
Local Health District a leader in Clinical Trials

The Western NSW Local Health District (WNSWLHD) is bringing world-class research closer to home, with the Central West Cancer Centre in Orange now participating in Phase 1 clinical trials. 

Phase 1 clinical trials involve testing drugs for the first time in humans. 

WNSWLHD Director of Clinical Trials Unit, Dr Rob Zielinski said, “Moving experimental cancer drugs from promising pre-clinical and animal research into humans is a lengthy and complex process. The first stage of human clinical trials is a Phase 1 study. The primary goal is to determine the safe human dose and to identify potential unexpected serious side effects. Determining how effective the cancer drug is in people is the goal of Phase 2 and 3 trials.” Phase 1 trials are considered as having the highest level of difficulty of any trial. 

“Being involved in these early phase trials is a huge step forward for our Local Health District. Global pharmaceutical companies don’t entrust Phase 1 trials to every clinical research unit due to their complexity and significant financial cost. They demand clinical research units that are highly experienced, well-equipped and have good backup from intensive care services. 

“Therefore being selected to run Phase 1 clinical trials demonstrates we are building a strong reputation as a partner of choice for exciting early stage clinical research. 

“At the end of the day, every drug that’s currently routinely prescribed to cancer patients has been through a Phase 1 trial at some stage,” said Dr Zielinski. “So to be part of a process that can change the lives of cancer patients across the globe is exciting for me and our patients.”

Many Phase 1 clinical trials require participants to be in hospital for treatment. Usually a trial will only involve 10-20 people, who can be treated in approved hospitals through clinical trial units. 

Typically, Phase 1 clinical trials are targeted at people for whom all standard therapy options have been exhausted. 

“These trials are the first opportunity for patients in the region to be part of testing exciting new drugs to determine what is a safe dose.” 

Building capacity for increasing the number and scope of clinical trials in rural NSW is a central focus of the Western NSW Local Health District’s Research Strategy​, launched last year. 

The Central Western Cancer Care Centre is currently participating in five Phase 1 clinical trials. Patients interested in participating in clinical trials should speak to their doctor and download the Clinical Trials Rural NSW App to see what trials are currently underway in the region. They can also call the Clinical Trials Unit at Orange Hospital on 6369 3127.