The Competence Network Acute and Chronic Leukemias is a nationally funded project that was designed to enhance the scientific collaboration in the fields of acute and chronic leukemias. This introduction gives a concise overview of diverse efforts to build up and shape a long-lasting, efficiently working network. Since the start of the project 1999 more than 1000 members in 320 participating centres have joined. As a result of networking numerous plans have succeeded in establishing cooperation and facilitation of knowledge transfer that otherwise could not have been realized. Foremost among ongoing research the Kompetenznetz fosters initiation of innovative therapeutic studies which are designed and governed by the various Leukemia study groups (see projects). Accrual of patients into clinical trials has nowadays become more effective than ever before as without exception all the major centers that take care of patients with leukemias participate in the network. Unique benefit from networking The cooperative German AML Intergroup has emerged from five prior loosely interacting study groups. The new group has agreed upon launching a prospective multicenter trial that evaluates in a randomized fashion strategies of various dose intensity during induction and consolidation phase.
Patients are upfront randomized to either a common standard arm ("3+7") or the treatment plan devised by the respective study group. In addition, a prognostic risk factor project in AML has been launched. As a result of this unified approach to treatment as well as data collection in reference laboratories analyses of distinct subentities of AML can be done that will be unprecedented in these dimensions. Methodology of laboratory techniques (immunophenotyping, cytogenetic and molecular analysis) has been standardized, workshops are being held and periodical quality assurance testing has been implemented. A decentralized tissue bank is in the process of being set up after approval recently by the ethics committee. All investigators that belong to the network may request and acquire stored material from herein for research purposes. The information centre serves as a core application within the network. Biostatisticians give vital support in the design and the data management of clinical trials. Sophisticated statistics, survival analyses and risk models are being applied. In addition, for instance the Leukemia Cytogenetics Analysis prototype data base was designed to merge data from different data sources and allows data exchange between network members. Furthermore a local network is going to be installed that enables shared interfaces and enhances communication infrastructure. For this purpose appropriate steps were taken to reinforce confidentiality and patients’ privacy rights. A nationwide Leukemia registry will be built up. Until now, epidemiologic research existed fragmented available for certain Federal States only. The Kompetenznetz Leukämien (www.kompetenznetz-leukaemie.de) online site was set up. Herein health care workers as well as patients find uptodate information on current open trials, patient information on leukemias, continuous medical education programs for physicians and nurses, upcoming events or training opportunities. The website also provides evidence based medicine recommendations and treatment guidelines for palliative medicine issued by the German Society of Hematology and Oncology (in collaboration).
Akute und Chronische Leukämien