Operational Challenges of an Asia-Pacific Academic Oncology Clinical Trial

ASCOLT Investigators

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


PURPOSE: The Asia-Pacific (APAC) region is a major focus for multinational clinical trials, although its cultural, linguistic, economic, and regulatory diversity pose significant challenges for trial conduct, particularly for academic clinical trials. METHODS: We describe our experience running the investigator-initiated phase III randomized, fully accrued, Aspirin for Dukes C and high-risk Dukes B Colorectal cancer trial (ASCOLT, ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT00565708, N = 1,587), studying the benefit of aspirin in resected high-risk colorectal cancer. ASCOLT opened in 2008 and is the first large academic adjuvant trial fully conducted in the APAC region. Centrally coordinated by the Trial Management Team at the National Cancer Centre Singapore, it has involved 74 sites across 12 APAC countries/regions, including five middle-income countries. RESULTS: Challenges encountered included regulatory complexity, communication and logistical barriers, limited funding and resources, disparate experience and infrastructure across sites, recruitment holds because of changes in local laws, patient attrition, and disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Over 100 contracts and 49 ethics board reviews were required, contributing to a lengthy prestudy preparation time of 2 years and start-up times of approximately 6 months per site. Some of the mitigating actions included engaging local cooperative groups (eg, the Australasian Gastro-Intestinal Trials Group in Australia and New Zealand) and seven contract research organizations to manage sites, regular communication with the central team, transition to electronic data management, and a centralized drug-dispensing system. CONCLUSION: To ensure an efficient and patient-centered clinical trials environment in the APAC region and sustained growth, we suggest coordinated approaches to harmonize regulatory processes, APAC academic oncology trials consortia to streamline processes and provide governance, and ongoing commitment from governments, funding agents, and industry.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e2300040
JournalJCO Global Oncology
StatePublished - Jun 1 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Operational Challenges of an Asia-Pacific Academic Oncology Clinical Trial'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this