At COTA, 2019 represented a year of collaboration, research, and innovation to advance the use of real-world evidence in cancer care and drug development. While our growth and accomplishments were certainly monumental, I am equally proud of our unwavering commitment to our mission to improve the lives of cancer patients by bringing clarity to this incredibly complex disease.

As we think about what’s ahead in 2020, there is no doubt that many of the activities outlined below set us up for future success and continued learning. We are excited to continue the momentum of our growth through new partners and customers, as well as enhancements to our offerings and team.

[May] We started the year off with big news that we had signed a research collaboration agreement (RCA) with the U.S. FDA. As only 3-5 percent of all adult cancer patients are enrolled in traditional clinical trials, the RCA supports the FDA’s goal to better understand the broader treatment of cancer through the application of RWE under the INFORMED Program.

[June] This news was quickly followed by the annual ASCO meeting, which had the theme of Caring for Every Patient, Learning from Every Patient. Through our own connections to cancer – whether experiencing it on the patient side or as a provider trying to outsmart the various forms of this disease – we understand the complexity of current treatment pathways. COTA was proud to have four abstracts featured this year:

[June] Continuing a commitment to transform patient care through the use of real-world data (RWD), we expanded our partnership with the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) as they launched CureCloud. This centralized data hub generates, aggregates and visualizes data to advance precision medicine for patients living with multiple myeloma. Multiple Myeloma is a highly heterogeneous disease, and substantial amounts of genomic, immune and clinical data are needed by physicians, researchers, and patients to help drive more effective treatments.

[July] This summer, we also expanded our offerings by bringing on a new director of Health Economics and Outcomes Research, Daniel Lane. Daniel brought extensive experience in leading oncology outcomes research organizations and leveraging innovative datasets to generate impactful RWE across multiple healthcare sectors. Combining this with COTA’s expertise and understanding of RWD allows the company to better support our partners as they improve access and quality in healthcare.

[August] Shortly after, COTA moved our headquarters to Boston. We officially moved into our new offices this summer, allowing for improved company collaboration both within the organization and across the industry. As COTA works to ensure that everyone touched by cancer has a clear path to the right care, being in a city that holds over 4.6% of the region’s total life science industry employment is imperative.

[August] Through a cross-industry partnership led by Friends of Cancer Research, COTA is helping advance the understanding and applications of RWE in oncology research. In the initial paper published in JCO Clinical Cancer Informatics, authors found that real-world endpoints are generally consistent with each other and with outcomes observed in randomized clinical trials, demonstrating the potential validity of real-world data to support regulatory and payer decision-making.

[November] Our mission carried through the end of the year, when our CMO, Dr. Andrew Norden, spoke at the Atlantic’s People v. Cancer event on the value of RWD to improve patient care. As Dr. Norden said, “As an industry we need to be laser focused on how we learn from the rest of the population so that when a patient says to their doctor ‘how many patients have you seen like me, what worked for them, what didn’t work, how am I going to feel,’ the doctor can actually answer those questions in a data driven way.” These answers are exactly what COTA is trying to provide.

[December] Later in the year at the American Society of Hematology Annual Meeting & Exposition (ASH 2019)COTA presented two posters that reviewed existing challenges for generating RWD and the promise of this data to support new research in cancer biology. Examining sources of real-world data in depth allows us to quickly and inexpensively test hypotheses related to the treatment of patients with specific biomarkers and their outcomes.

[December] Finally, we ended the year announcing a collaboration with Guardant Health, the results of which were published in JCO Precision Oncology. Looking at COTA’s RWD, researchers found only 40% of patients with metastatic colon cancer received recommended biomarker testing. As a result, patients may receive less effective drugs or could be missing out on highly personalized treatment options. Illuminating this gap between recommended and actual clinical practice allows us to now take steps to optimize clinical care.

Looking Ahead to 2020

For 2020, our goal remains consistent: keep the patient at the center of everything we do to ensure they receive optimal care. Thank you for sharing our mission, and for supporting us through 2019. We look forward to everything that 2020 and beyond has in store.