Cancer is the leading cause of death in Minnesota, with nearly half of all the state’s residents being diagnosed with a potentially serious form of the disease during their lifetimes, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.
Through state funding approved last year from the Minnesota Legislature, the University of Minnesota has launched a statewide network of clinical research sites that will work to improve cancer outcomes and decrease cancer risk for Minnesotans. The Minnesota Cancer Clinical Trials Network (MNCCTN), led by the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota, will expand access to cancer clinical trials to regions of the state where they are not currently available.
The network stems from $4 million in annual state funding approved by the Minnesota Legislature last year for the MnDRIVE Cancer Clinical Trials research area, a new addition to the existing MnDRIVE program (Minnesota’s Discovery, Research, and InnoVation Economy).
“MNCCTN provides a rare opportunity for its participants to join forces to provide a lot of good to Minnesotans and to potentially become a model for other states,” said Dr. Charles Loprinzi, medical director for MNCCTN and Regis Professor of Breast Cancer Research at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. “I look forward to the challenge.”
The MNCCTN is a collaboration between the Masonic Cancer Center and The Hormel Institute at the U of M, Essentia Health Community Oncology Research Program, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, Fairview Health Services, Sanford Community Oncology Program of the North Central Plains, and the Metro-Minnesota Community Oncology Research Consortium.
Over the course of the next year, the network will establish a total of 18 new clinical trial locations across the state, with more to come in the years that follow. These first locations are in: Aitkin, Albert Lea, Austin, Cambridge, Deer River, Detroit Lakes, Fosston, Grand Rapids, Hastings, Hibbing (two locations), Mankato, Monticello, Park Rapids, Princeton, Thief River Falls, Virginia, and Worthington.
MNCCTN will help Minnesotans who live outside of the greater Twin Cities and Rochester areas benefit from scientific advances in cancer treatment that come out of the U of M and Mayo Clinic. The network will increase access to potentially lifesaving treatments, strengthening health care systems, and creating more equitable access to care. Meanwhile, the network will also increase public awareness and demand for cancer clinical trials to accelerate research in this field.
“Cancer takes a devastating toll on Minnesotans’ health, happiness, and quality of life—we all know someone who has been affected,” said Allen Levine, Ph.D., the U’s vice president for research. “This new network continues MnDRIVE’s mission of meeting pressing societal challenges in Minnesota and beyond with innovative research made possible by state support.”
See the press release for more about the MNCCTN.