Clinical drug trials network for Tennesseans shows promise

In Clinical Studies News by Barbara Jacoby

By: Jason Bolton


Tennesseans’ opportunities to access clinical trial drugs are more limited than other parts of the country. But, a year-old initiative out of a local university is getting the state’s residents enrolled in early drug and medical device access.

“This network meets a huge need for University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) clinical research,” said Steve Goodman, president and CEO of the Clinical Trials Network of Tennessee (CTN2) and a vice chancellor for research at UTHSC, in a release. “CTN2 takes patient care to the next level by opening up access to novel therapies and medical devices.”

Since its founding in April 2018, CTN2 has contracts with six medical institutions in the state, and about 25 Tennessee residents are participating in the initiative’s trials.

CTN2 is an independent research arm of the University of Tennessee Research Foundation (UTRF). As a state-wide clinical trial facilitator, CTN2 connects hospitals, universities, and other health care entities with shared health care data, with a goal of conducting more inclusive clinical research trials.

Participating Tennessee organizations include local health care-affiliated entities such as UTHSC, Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare, Memphis Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Regional One Health, University Clinical Health, and West Cancer Center, as well as Saint Thomas Health in Nashville, and Erlanger Health System in Chattanooga.

To date, CTN2 has two clinical trials enrolling patients: one a drug trial for colon cancer and the other an outcome registry for heart transplant patients. In addition, other studies are forthcoming to conduct research around heart failure, bladder cancer, cardiomyopathy, ophthalmology, and advanced malignancies and oral premalignant lesions.

CTN2 is also involved in research and data mining on the procurement of biospecimens and medical device implants that are in surgical use.

The UTRF Board of Directors committed $3 million to fund CTN2 over three years. That funding was tied to operational benchmarks, which have been eclipsed in 2019. UTRF has released funding to CTN2 for 2020.

“All Tennesseans stand to benefit from CTN2’s success, particularly the partnerships it’s building between hospitals, academia, and partners from the pharmaceutical and medical device industries,” said Richard Magid, vice president of the UTRF. “Just one year in, CTN2 is already bringing novel medical studies home to state residents who need them, right here in their own communities.”