Improving diversity in clinical trials

May 18, 2023
About the Author

Julio A. Peguero, MD is Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Medical Oncology, and the Director of Research at Oncology Consultants. He is a member of the American Medical Association, Texas Medical Association, Harris County Medical Society, American Society of Clinical Oncology, Texas Society of Medical Oncology and the American Society of Hematology. Oncology Consultants has provided consulting services to Mirati Therapeutics.

In recognition of World Clinical Trial Day on May 20, Julio Peguero, MD of Oncology Consultants (OC) shared his motivation to contribute to clinical research and how his practice works in concert with Mirati to bring the cutting edge of cancer care to underserved communities.

OC has been a clinical research collaborator with Mirati for three years building upon a long history with Mirati team members that dates back nearly 20 years. That collaboration has included successful enrollment to four Mirati trials, activation of a practice in Guadalajara and working with the Exigent research network that is affiliated with OC.

Q. How is Oncology Consultants different from most community clinical research sites?

A: OC is a large community practice in Texas with 14 locations in the Houston and Corpus Christi area. OC is different in the sense that we work together in a family environment, so patients, their caregivers and physicians all feel fairly well connected. This interconnectedness motivates us to strive for excellence in our community and brings physicians close to the patients and families they serve.

As a result, we have developed a top tier clinical research program focused on Phase I First in Human (FIH) through Phase IV studies in the heart of the Texas Medical Center.  Our research program rapidly activates studies through ‘Just In Time’ and creates access to desperately needed treatment options for patients while maintaining the highest level of quality.  The ‘Just in Time’ study activation process allows us to open a clinical trial within only 2 weeks after a patient is identified.

Q. Can you share with us Oncology Consultants’ groundbreaking efforts to increase diversity in the clinical research and how you do that with Mirati?

A: We at Oncology Consultants are passionate about supporting the oncology populations in Latin America. Our first big project was the opening of a community oncology practice called Consultores en Oncologia as a satellite site of OC in Guadalajara, Mexico. We believe that Guadalajara desperately needs this type of oncological impact.

In May of 2020, I shared my vision of bringing clinical trial access to patients in Guadalajara and shared my vision with the Mirati Clinical Collaboration team. We are proud to say the site at Consultores en Oncologia opened successfully and Mirati’s study just activated! As a result, we are thankful to Mirati Therapeutics for the close collaboration with the primary investigators at OC.

This was just the beginning. OC is an Exigent Research member site, where I now lead a new Phase 1 program. Exigent Research is a community research network created in 2022 by Quality Cancer Care Alliance and National Cancer Care Alliance. The Collaborations Team at Mirati in concert with Medical Affairs work at the national network level to engage their leadership, align to network processes and to develop efficiencies particularly in start up.

Q. How do the efforts of Oncology Consultants International Office support a broader patient population?

A: Latin communities are often underrepresented in clinical trials, therefore one of the main goals of OC is to provide access to patients who are typically barred due to insurance restrictions.

Additionally, for the last 40 years, pioneered by Luis Campos, MD, Oncology Consultants offers patients the opportunity to receive a second opinion in a therapeutic environment modeled after their home country. We have offered this in a longstanding capacity and the positive results over the years have demonstrated the value of this offering.

In recognition of World Clinical Trial Day, I’m honored to highlight efforts to improve diversity in clinical trial populations. We hope to see more progress in the coming years. Speaking on behalf of myself and colleagues at Oncology Consultants, and Consultores en Oncologia, we are very excited to have our first clinical trial outside of the United States activated with Mirati.