Trialing new cancer treatments

Clinical trials provide us with opportunities to translate our laboratory research findings to new patient treatments. Our unique location within the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Centre at Austin Health allows us to link these trials directly with clinical teams and suitable patients. We also work with other hospitals across Victoria and Australia so even more patients can benefit from these trials.

At any one time, our scientists are involved in clinical trials for a range of cancers which could include brain, bowel, breast, skin, gastrointestinal, head and neck, pancreatic, prostate and lung cancer.

Frequently asked questions

All clinical trials that are currently led by the ONJCRI are listed on the following websites:

Full details of each trial, including full recruitment details, are also available on this site.

You will need the support of your oncologist to participate in a clinical trial, so it is best if you work together to identify if there are any trials that may be suitable for you to consider.

We have a strong track record and experience in leading clinical trials. Our scientists, clinicians and research colleagues are investigators on clinical trials spanning “First time in human” investigations, through to multinational phase III trials.

By participating in a clinical trial you can help us to further our understanding of how to detect and treat cancers.  You will be directly helping future generations of people impacted by cancer.

Some of our clinical trials

Follicular Lymphoma (FL) trial

Follicular Lymphoma (FL) is a type of slow growing non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, which is a form of blood cancer that changes one of the white blood cells (B-cells) and can affect the lymph nodes. An average of 1,500 Australians are diagnosed each year, and this incidence is increasing. Some treatments can be highly effective but are often associated with significant side effects, which impact quality of life.

In collaboration with Bristol-Myers Squibb Australia, this multicentre trial led by A/Prof Eliza Hawkes, will combine two agents to see how effective this combination is in patients who have had no previous drug treatment for their lymphoma, aiming to reducing treatment side effects and improve long term effectiveness.

Thyroid cancer trial - I-FIRST

While current treatments for thyroid cancer are usually effective, a subset of patients will stop responding or become less sensitive to I-131 treatment. The outcome for these patients is poor, and further treatment options may not be effective or have significant toxicity.

This actively recruiting prospective multicentre trial funded by the Medical Research Futures Fund and led by Prof Andrew Scott and collaborators around Australia, will use cutting edge imaging to evaluate the ability of drugs to “resensitize” the tumour to I-131 therapy in up to 80 patients. We will also determine the affordability of bringing this therapy to the clinic.

Rare cancer trials

We are currently leading a first-of-a-kind trial that will have significant global implications for the treatment of patients with rare cancers.

This trial benefits a group of patients with rare gastrointestinal, neuroendocrine and gynaecological cancers for whom there are few effective drugs.  Patients on this trial are being treated with a combination of immune-stimulating anti-cancer drugs and early indications are showing clinical benefit.

The first 60 patients recruited to this trial were generously supported using a grant from Bristol-Myers Squibb Ltd, and the support of our project partners Rare Cancers Australia. In 2018, the Institute received a $1 million funding boost from the Federal Government which enabled the recruitment of an additional 60 additional patients living in regional and rural areas to access the trial drugs.

This is a much needed contribution for an area of a profound need such as these patients with rare and otherwise untreatable cancers.

Medicinal cannabis clinical trial

ONJCRI will lead a randomised phase I/II clinical trial to evaluate the use of medicinal cannabis for patients with advanced cancer.

This will be a first-of-its-kind clinical trial in Victoria and one of only a few being conducted world-wide.

The aim is to assess the impact medicinal cannabis has on the quality of life of participants in a palliative care setting. This project is being partially funded by the Victorian Government.

Throughout the trial, participants will be monitored closely for improvements in quality of life, pain, appetite, anxiety, nausea, fatigue, sleep and weight loss. Further funding is sought to identify whether the use of cannabis may have any anti-cancer effect.

108 trial participants will be recruited from four national hospitals. This trial will not be made available to the public but rather participants will be invited by their oncologist or oncology team if they meet all pre-determined selection criteria.

Hodgkin Lymphoma trial

Hodgkin Lymphoma (HL) is a rare malignancy, with 500 new cases annually in young Australians. While 70% of patients are cured with front line treatment, 30% of patients require second line therapy which often fails resulting in death. Immunotherapy and targeted therapies have dramatically improved survival in haematological malignancies.

In collaboration with the ALLG (local sponsor), the Canadian Clinical Trials Group and sites across Australia, this multicentre international trial funded by the Medical Research Futures Fund and led in Australia by A/Prof Eliza Hawkes along with her colleague A/Prof Tara Cochrane from Gold Coast University Hospital, this study will combine two agents currently approved in recurrent HL the second line setting, earlier to maximise survival of these young Australians.

Colorectal cancer trial

Colorectal cancer is a major cause of cancer related deaths for which there is an urgent need to develop new treatments. The drug valproate has been used to treat epilepsy and mood disorders for over 50 years. We have found that valproate can profoundly increase the anti-tumour activity of a class of drugs known as EGFR inhibitors in laboratory models of colon cancer.

This active multicentre trial funded by the Medical Research Future Fund and AGITG, and led by Profs Niall Tebbutt and John Mariadason, will test the activity of this drug combination in a phase II clinical trial in more than 80 Australian patients with advanced colon cancer.