Precision medicine trial opens for patients with rare cancers


Cancer Research UK, the University of Manchester and Roche have opened a multi-drug, precision medicine trial aiming to find out whether existing drugs could benefit patients with rare cancers.

The DETERMINE trial will recruit both paediatric and adult patients with any rare cancer type, with eligible patients having undergone genetic screening that found they have one of the particular genetic mutations in their cancer that can be targeted by a drug on the trial.

“With technological advances in genetic testing we’ve learned that some rare tumours contain genetic abnormalities which may benefit from targeted treatment currently only available for more common cancer types,” explained Dr Matthew Krebs, chief investigator for the trial at the University of Manchester and The Christie NHS Foundation Trust.

Cancer Research UK’s Centre for Drug Development will sponsor and manage the trial, which will be led by the University of Manchester. Roche is providing seven of its targeted drugs to be evaluated in the first instance, with further pharmaceutical partners encouraged to contribute their drugs as the trial progresses.

Any drug which appears to be working for patients in the trial will be submitted for review by the Cancer Drug Fund which will decide whether to collect more data and assess if it could be used as a routine treatment option on the NHS for patients with this cancer type.

Rare cancers make up 22% of cancers that are diagnosed globally each year, which is more than any single type of cancer. Despite this, fewer treatment options exist for patients with rare cancers.

“This platform trial is a significant milestone in Cancer Research UK’s commitment to finding better treatments for cancer patients who desperately need them,” said Iain Foulkes, executive director of research and innovation at Cancer Research UK.

He continued: “By looking at drugs which are already available, and working with the Cancer Drugs Fund, our trial has a direct route to provide long-term patient access to potentially life-saving drugs which weren’t previously available to patients with rare cancers.”

The first trial site has opened at the Christie NHS Foundation Trust with other following sites including the University of Birmingham, the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Glasgow, as well as sites across the entire adult and paediatric Experimental Cancer Medicine Centres network.

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