News & Information | START In The News

December 8th, 2016
San Antonio Business Journal
By: Scott Bailey

Texas Innovations in Health Care: START spreads clinical trials model abroad

Perhaps no entity has done more to further the Alamo City's position as a significant contributor in cancer research and treatment than South Texas Accelerated Research Therapeutics - or START.

In May, San Antonio-based START, which operates one of the largest phase I medical oncology programs in the world, expanded to Taiwan, where it has opened a new center at Taipei Medical University. The Taipei center is the sixth in START's global network of phase I clinical research sites. It already had two centers in Madrid, one in Shanghai and another in Grand Rapids, Michigan, as well as its headquarters in San Antonio.

"You won't transform clinical research unless you put it on a much bigger scale, so we are trying to bring these centers closer to where the people are," START co-founder Dr. Anthony Tolcher said.

One of START's missions is to help create more consistency in the clinical research environment - nationally and internationally - to improve the path to more effective cancer treatment

"You can travel around the world, go to a Starbucks and you know what kind of coffee you are going to get," Tolcher said. "We want that for clinical trials. Then we can help transform the bureaucratic process of drug development."

The "mother ship" of those efforts is San Antonio, Tolcher said.

The Alamo City is also home to the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio's UT Health MD Anderson Cancer Center - a National Cancer Institute-designated research center that has been involved in developing multiple cancer therapies that are now used worldwide.

Last year, the Mays Family Foundation, named for Clear Channel Communications co-founder Lowry Mays and his wife Peggy, contributed $5 million to the center to help accelerate its advancement efforts.

In August, the Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas awarded nearly $4.6 million to San Antonio's Center for Innovative Drug Discovery, co-founded by the Health Science Center and the University of Texas at San Antonio.

But for all of its work on the cancer front, San Antonio still faces money challenges.

To date, the Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas has awarded roughly half of the $3 billion that it was authorized by the state Legislature to allocate. San Antonio trails far behind Houston and Dallas in the dispersal of that funding so far.

W. Scott Bailey covers health care, tourism, sports business, economic development; he also plans and edits some special reports.