The Clinical Communication Platform (CCP)
A data hub for networked research
Tumor biobanks of tumor samples and patient data are important resources for the development of new diagnostic and treatment methods. Scientists in the DKTK consortium can access important data for their research from all the consortium’s sites. At the same time, the databases meet high quality and data protection requirements. The Clinical Communication Platform (CCP) was set up to secure these two aspects.
Tumor biobanks and clinical and experimental patient data are vital resources for making progress in the area of personalized medicine. By systematically investigating biological material (e.g. tissue or blood), researchers can identify the molecular factors that are specific to particular types of cancer. Using the biological samples, scientists can also identify biomarkers that can be used to predict the clinical progress of cancer and the effectiveness and side effects of certain treatments. This makes it possible to offer patients effective treatments with fewer adverse effects.
IT platform for clinical research
The databases provide the researchers with information about how many patients there are at DKTK locations who meet specific criteria for a clinical trial and show whether biological samples from a particular patient have been stored. In addition, by the size of the data pool there are sufficient patient numbers to allow research even in rare types of cancer.
Access to this information is provided by the DKTK’s Clinical Communication Platform (CCP), which is coordinated by the DKTK’s Frankfurt/Mainz location. The clinical information systems and tumor biobanks of the university hospitals at the DKTK locations are linked to the CCP, which means researchers can use them as a shop window to plan clinical trials and other research projects.
Decentralized data storage via Bridgeheads into the network
The CCP uses a clearly decentralized data storage concept. Comprehensive patient data stays at the individual locations and is protected behind the firewall of the clinic information system. The connection to the outside is provided at all participating institutions by Bridgeheads, which hold the data for the local site.
Researchers can use these Bridgeheads to supply pseudonymized data relating to the patients at their locations for multicenter research projects or clinical trials. The Bridgeheads also serve as search tools, that allow scientists to search the entire DKTK consortium for patients for clinical trials or for e.g. tissue samples for translational research projects.
Whether or not a site collaborates in the course of an applied project is ultimately at its own discretion: without approval from the local committees, no data or biological material leaves the site. Before producing a comprehensive project description, it is usually helpful to carry out some preliminary overview searches. For these, there is a central database that contains minimal anonymous datasets from the Bridgeheads. The dataset includes selected information about the type and size of a solid tumor, its spread and the stage of the disease. There are also details about the treatment method and the medical outcome of the treatment. The dataset is based on the data economy principle: it contains only the minimum data necessary for researchers to be able to carry out DKTK-wide requests to see how many patients are present for certain clinical trials, and to search for particular tissue samples for research projects.
New standards to ensure data reliability
Another key focus of the CCP is on the development of new quality assurance standards. There are often significant differences in the way samples are stored and in the way data is recorded for different tumor types. The CCP therefore aims to standardize the processes involved. This is the only way to ensure that scientists can reliably extract the vital information they need for their research projects.
Central trials register to support patient recruitment
A large number of oncological trials are conducted in Germany. Clinical trials investigate different treatment options depending on the type of cancer, the course of the disease or the age of the patients. The central DKTK trials register offers patients and attending physicians a simple way of obtaining a detailed overview of oncological trials currently accepting patients at the DKTK locations. A central DKTK trials register was set up for this purpose and to provide a connectionA large number of oncological trials are conducted in Germany. Clinical trials investigate different treatment options depending on the type of cancer, the course of the disease or the age of the patients. The central DKTK trials register offers patients and attending physicians a simple way of obtaining a detailed overview of oncological trials currently accepting patients at the DKTK locations. A central DKTK trials register was set up for this purpose and to provide a connection to the other databases within the DKTK.