Precision medicine study could find new options for rare cancers

Scientist in laboratory

Cancer Research UK, The University of Manchester and Roche have opened a multi-drug, precision medicine trial for people with rare cancers. 

The trial is set up to recruit both paediatric and adult patients with any rare cancer type and is one of very few precision medicine platform trials in the world targeting these populations. 

The DETERMINE trial aims to find out whether existing drugs, including those which are licensed for more common types of cancer, could also benefit patients with rare cancer types that the drug isn’t currently licensed for. 

Patients will be genetically screened to find out if they have one of the genetic mutations in their cancer that can be targeted by a drug on the trial. Its unique design means that any treatment which appears to be working for patients on the trial will be submitted for review by the Cancer Drug Fund (CDF). 

Cancer Research UK’s Centre for Drug Development is sponsoring and managing the trial, with the University of Manchester leading it. Roche is providing seven of their targeted drugs to be evaluated and other pharmaceutical partners are encouraged to join as the trial progresses. 

Dr Matthew Krebs, Chief Investigator for the DETERMINE trial at The University of Manchester and The Christie NHS Foundation Trust, said: “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.  

“With the potential to change outcomes for adults, teenagers and children with rare cancers, this trial will be ground-breaking for a patient population who often feel neglected by current cancer research.” 

Worldwide, rare cancers make up 22 out of every 100 (22%) cancers that are diagnosed each year, which is more than any single type of cancer.

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