Now in its fifth year, the EAU Research Foundation (EAU-RF) has gained the needed impetus in its efforts to actively contribute to urological research and act as a bridge between urological centres, research organisations and the EAU.
“We have initiated clinical trials of interest for new developments that will advance urological treatments. We have also initiated registries on urological diseases to see how treatments are done throughout Europe,” said EAU-RF Chairman Prof. Peter Mulders. Mulders, EAU-RF chairman since 2008, added that the EAU-RF has finally gained the momentum to focus on its long-term plans and provide a reliable platform for urology research.
“We have set up a framework that caters to the needs of European urology. The EAU-RF is now recognised by various stakeholders for fulfilling a crucial role, and that it can act accordingly,” said Mulders. “The mandate that we have is clear and, more importantly, our efforts to fulfil these tasks are being acknowledged within and outside the EAU.”
Tasked to promote, facilitate and stimulate clinical and basic research in European urology, the EAU-RF has earned its stripes in the last few years since its creation in 2007. Mulders noted that that for instance, ZEUS (Zometa European Study) is a landmark study and one of the fastest-recruiting success story of the EAU-RF and its Central Research Office (EAU CRO).
Mulders said another notable EAU-RF study involves patients who need to undergo a cystectomy for their muscle invasive bladder cancer. The project is a randomised, double blind, placebo controlled phase II trial to evaluate the safety and efficacy of recMAGE-A3 + AS15 Antigen Specific Cancer Immunotherapy (ASCI) in patients with MAGE-A3 positive muscle invasive bladder cancer after cystectomy.
The trial known as MAGE A3, a product of GSK Biologicals, will run this year with Mulders as principal investigator. The aim is to assess whether adjuvant treatment with recMAGE-A3 + AS 15 ASCI after cystectomy is safe and effective and improves the outcome of patients who are clinically tumour-free after cystectomy and who had a transitional cell carcinoma with expression of the MAGE-A3 antigen. A total of eight to 10 European countries will participate with an anticipated average of six to eight centres each.
New prospects: NMIBC
Aside from the MIBC cystectomy project, a trial on non-muscle invasive bladder cancer (NMIBC) will be initiated by the EAU-RF this year. The trial will look into the number of Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) cycles in NMIBC. Six participating countries will be involved in the randomised, prospective study, and Mulders said side studies will be performed such as the detection of NMIBC with various light sources and detection markers.
Mulders also noted that more clinical trials are under development in both oncology and non-oncology areas in urology such as neuromodulation in overactive bladder (OAB) and imaging studies in renal cell carcinoma, amongst others. He also mentioned that the Clinical Studies Committee (chaired by Anup Patel) will also have meetings during the 26th EAU Annual Congress in Vienna with urological experts and interested industry partners.
Crisis as opportunity
Asked on the impact of the lingering financial crisis that has affected the industry and the state of medical research in particular, Mulders said the crisis can actually be a blessing disguise.
“In my view due to the financial crisis the EAU-RF has become more important for sponsors since they have become more selective and are prompted to better communicate with experts in the field before new programmes are actually initiated,” he said. “We have the experts with the EAU and the EAU-RF and we see that industry partners are gradually shifting to collaborative strategies. Not only that, other independent groups as well, such as the EORTC, are tracking the same joint and collaborative projects.”
With the EAU-RF’s long-term strategies in mind, Mulders said the momentum that the foundation has built in recent years will hopefully spur similar coordinated moves from its partners in the urological community and the industry.
“A lot of energy has been invested to the EAU-RF. What is significant, perhaps, is that everybody is aware of the EAU-RF’s activities and how various stakeholders can exert concerted efforts through our platform. It is definitely an achievement if the EAURF is viewed as an organisation where research efforts are effectively pooled together to completion,” said Mulders.|
The full version of this article, with details of survey results can be found in the latest issue of European Urology Today.