USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center is expanding its wide selection of groundbreaking cancer clinical trials to Keck Medicine of USC’s Koreatown and Newport Beach ambulatory site locations — with the goal of serving diverse patient populations and improving access for those who choose to participate.

Clinical trials are research studies directed at examining new medical procedures and treatments. They provide patients the opportunity to receive innovative care, while also contributing to the scientific search for new interventions and more nuanced understandings of diseases.

“You cannot deliver cutting-edge cancer care without clinical trials,” said Anthony El-Khoueiry, MD, phase I program director and associate director for clinical research at USC Norris. “They are the necessary bridge to getting new drugs approved and they expand the options that patients have for treatment.”

Leaders in serving diverse patient populations

The expansion of clinical trials to the Koreatown and Newport Beach sites will reduce the burden and cost of travel for patients in those communities, while also providing clinical trials geared to those areas’ most common cancer treatment needs.

At the Koreatown site, offerings will initially place a particular emphasis on lung cancers and cancers of the gastrointestinal tract — with a Korean-speaking research coordinator and treatment teams on-site.

At Newport Beach, a full spectrum of cancer clinical trials will be available close to home for the diverse patient population residing across Orange County.

These efforts continue USC Norris’ leadership in providing access to underrepresented patient populations. According to El-Khoueiry, about 60% of patients who enroll in therapeutic clinical trials at USC Norris belong to minority and underrepresented groups.

“We are national leaders in this area,” El-Khoueiry said. “That same philosophy applies to why we have extended the trials to these new clinical locations.”

Shaping the future of cancer treatment

Most cancer patients either participate in or become educated about clinical trials at some point in their treatment journey, especially if their disease resists prior interventions, El-Khoueiry said.

“A lot of patients realize that by participating in trials, they are advancing science,” El-Khoueiry said. “They are helping to improve the knowledge that may benefit others in the future.”

In turn, El-Khoueiry said, patient diversity in clinical trials is critical for gathering nuanced data to shape the future of oncological treatments and address the needs of all cancer patients.

“The results of clinical trials are more valuable and applicable if they have diverse participants because patients may harbor certain genetic variations that affect how they process specific drugs or how their immune systems react to the cancer or the treatment,” El-Khoueiry said.

 Getting involved

To get involved, prospective patients can visit Keck Medicine’s central clinical trials and studies website to view clinical trial offerings.

Clinical trial enrollees at the Koreatown and Newport Beach sites will continue to have access to the full breadth of clinic trials available at USC Norris’ central location at Keck Medical Center of USC, and they may seek referrals to these trials from their ambulatory site providers.

USC Norris also plans to further expand clinical trials to other ambulatory sites in the future, following careful analysis of specific treatment needs in other site areas, El-Khoueiry said.

—Michael Juliani