The University of Kansas Cancer Center Expands Early Phase Clinical Trial Offerings

December 8, 2022

Joaquina Baranda, MD in white lab coat.

Joaquina Baranda, MD, is the early phase program director for the KU Cancer Center, which manages more than 350 early phase clinical cancer trials

Kansas and Missouri cancer patients now have more clinical trial options closer to home. Recently, the University of Kansas Cancer Center joined the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) Experimental Therapeutics Clinical Trials Network (ETCTN), which enables it to offer more early phase clinical trials than anywhere else in the region.

The process to become part of the ETCTN is competitive. The network provides access to unique precision medicine and targeted therapy trials. Membership provides investigators funding to conduct these studies, as well as opportunities to partner with researchers at other NCI cancer centers. Members are grouped into teams and placed under one of eight leading academic organizations. KU Cancer Center is part of a consortium led by Yale Cancer Center.

The cancer center’s status as an NCI National Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP) community site further boosts clinical trial options. Under the program, the cancer center and Masonic Cancer Alliance team members select individuals to participate in NCI-approved cancer clinical trials and research studies that encompass cancer prevention, screening, supportive care and symptom management, treatment, quality of life and cancer care delivery. KU Cancer Center is in its third year as a designated NCORP site. One of 14 NCORP-designated minority/underserved community sites, the KU Cancer Center is the only one concentrating its efforts on rural communities. Recently, cancer center clinicians and researchers received recognition for NCORP clinical trial enrollment. 

Early Phase Clinical Trials at KU Cancer Center

Clinical trials testing new treatments are divided into phases. During phase I and phase 2, researchers determine the safety, side effects and best dosages for new treatments. They also make sure that the treatment has some benefit, such as slowing tumor growth.

Most KU Cancer Center early phase clinical trials take place at the JCERT-funded KU Clinical Research Center (CRC). At any time, the cancer center is managing about 370 clinical trials and enrolling participants in at least 180 of them. 

Joaquina Baranda, MD, serves as early phase program director for KU Cancer Center and principal investigator under the ETCTN consortium. According to Dr. Baranda, the CRC facility is a unique differentiator of the cancer center, and it benefits patients across the region.

“People don’t have to travel thousands of miles to take part in leading-edge, early phase studies,” she said. “The CRC is at the center of our progress, leading to better ways to treat and prevent cancer.”

Download the Clinical Trial Finder App

The cancer center’s Clinical Trials Finder app allows individuals to navigate active clinical trials and helps physicians/clinicians refer patients to an ongoing trial that might help with their treatment. The Clinical Trials Finder app is available for Android and Apple.