Precision medicine trial highlights the need for a new approach in treating genomically complicated cancers
A pioneering lung cancer study has highlighted important factors that will need to be considered in the next wave of precision medicine studies particularly in treating genomically complicated cancers.
Professor Popat added that trials in lung cancer are particularly difficult, and not all patients benefited.
“Testing new drugs in lung cancer is a real challenge as it is an aggressive disease. Unfortunately for some patients they did not see a positive improvement. What we should now do is coordinate more research on a wider scale, using this as an opportunity to further expand our knowledge of targeting gene mutations.”
Next steps in the NLMT are to continue recruiting patients. A new combination arm has just been added to the study and opened earlier in June. There will also be further publications from the individual arms and cohorts, and translational laboratory work.
The trial was led by the University of Birmingham’s Cancer Research UK Clinical Trials Unit, funded by Cancer Research UK (CRUK) and supported by the charity’s Stratified Medicine Programme Phase 2 (SMP2) screening platform.
A £25 million collaboration with Pfizer, AstraZeneca and other pharmaceutical companies, and with support from the NHS, the NLMT matches different treatments to different groups of patients based on genetic changes in their cancer.
Graham, 59, was diagnosed in 2017 with lung cancer. After having chemotherapy and immunotherapy, his clinical team at The Royal Marsden recommended he went on to the Matrix trial. He takes the drug orally twice a day, and has had an amazing response.
"It was quite an instant impact,” he explains. “We saw a big reduction in the size of my primary tumour – around 59% within four months of starting the trial – and it’s maintained around that level since. I’ve had very minimal side effects, so have been able to get on with life and spending time with my family.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic Graham’s treatment continued, but clinical teams amended his schedule to minimise his attendance at hospital. He has had regular phone calls with them, and was able to have his drugs delivered to home.
Graham adds: “I have been shielding at home throughout the pandemic. It’s been reassuring to know that the team at The Royal Marsden is there if you need them”.