Bayesian Adaptive Trial Design for a Newly Validated Surrogate Endpoint

Lindsay A. Renfro, Bradley P. Carlin, Daniel J. Sargent

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The evaluation of surrogate endpoints for primary use in future clinical trials is an increasingly important research area, due to demands for more efficient trials coupled with recent regulatory acceptance of some surrogates as 'valid.' However, little consideration has been given to how a trial that utilizes a newly validated surrogate endpoint as its primary endpoint might be appropriately designed. We propose a novel Bayesian adaptive trial design that allows the new surrogate endpoint to play a dominant role in assessing the effect of an intervention, while remaining realistically cautious about its use. By incorporating multitrial historical information on the validated relationship between the surrogate and clinical endpoints, then subsequently evaluating accumulating data against this relationship as the new trial progresses, we adaptively guard against an erroneous assessment of treatment based upon a truly invalid surrogate. When the joint outcomes in the new trial seem plausible given similar historical trials, we proceed with the surrogate endpoint as the primary endpoint, and do so adaptively-perhaps stopping the trial for early success or inferiority of the experimental treatment, or for futility. Otherwise, we discard the surrogate and switch adaptive determinations to the original primary endpoint. We use simulation to test the operating characteristics of this new design compared to a standard O'Brien-Fleming approach, as well as the ability of our design to discriminate trustworthy from untrustworthy surrogates in hypothetical future trials. Furthermore, we investigate possible benefits using patient-level data from 18 adjuvant therapy trials in colon cancer, where disease-free survival is considered a newly validated surrogate endpoint for overall survival.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)258-267
Number of pages10
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2012


  • Bayesian adaptive design
  • Clinical trials
  • Surrogate endpoints
  • Survival analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • Applied Mathematics


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