Precision Medicine Reaches a New Level

Precision Medicine Reaches a New Level

August 12, 2015

A major step is now occurring in the advancement of precision medicine in the treatment of cancer. A record number of cancer patients are now being enrolled in a trial that is like none other before and marks a new era in treating cancer.

A major step is now occurring in the advancement of precision medicine in the treatment of cancer. A record number of cancer patients are now being enrolled in a trial that is like none other before and marks a new era in treating cancer.

The National Cancer Institute’s (NCI)-MATCH (Molecular Analysis for Therapy Choice) Trial is part of President Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative, focusing on treating cancer patients based on the molecular profile of their tumors.1 The NCI-Match Trial is a phase II trial that will determine whether targeted therapies for patients whose tumors have specific gene mutations will be effective, regardless of their cancer type.

For instance, a breast cancer patient may have the anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) gene mutation often found in lung cancer. The NCI-MATCH Trial substudy will look at treating the ALK mutation rather than the type of cancer. More than 20 different study drugs or drug combinations targeting specific gene mutation will be used in the NCI-MATCH Trial as treatment substudies.

“Treating patients with targeted therapies looking at the molecular makeup of certain tumors is something we’ve been doing, but we will now be able to take it to an even greater level with NCI-MATCH Trial. With so many medical centers participating in this trial, it will provide a greater number of potential candidates with specific gene mutations to test novel therapies that could ultimately lead to finding improved treatment options for cancer patients,” said study investigator Anthony Shields, MD, PhD, who is an associate center director for Clinical Sciences and program leader for Molecular Imaging at Karmanos and Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit.2

The NCI is opening the MATCH Trial with 10 substudies. It will then move to about 20 or more in the coming months and years. Each substudy will analyze a treatment being investigated for that particular gene mutation. It is hoped this approach will lower morbidity and mortality. 

The trial will include approximately 3,000 patients nationwide, and will assess response rates and 6-month progression-free survival (PFS). “Although we have made great progress in cancer research, continued funding and collaboration is critical for the development of new cancer treatments, such as the molecular targeted treatments, especially as cancer cells become resistant to current therapies,” said Dr. Shields. “This is a major step in the future of cancer care.”  

To be in this trial you must be at least 18 years of age or older, with solid tumors or lymphomas that have advanced following at least one type of standard treatment, or have tumors where there is currently no standard treatment. Each subtrial will enroll up to 35 patients. Those with rare types of cancer are encouraged to participate.

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