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The Royal Marsden

Q&A: plasmaMATCH trial

Dr Nicholas Turner, Consultant Medical Oncologist at The Royal Marsden and Team Leader in Molecular Oncology at the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR), explains how a new trial could benefit breast cancer patients

Consultant Medical Oncologist Dr Nicholas Turner


What is the aim of the plasmaMATCH trial?

Breast cancers release DNA into the blood. We can analyse this circulating tumour DNA (ctDNA) via a simple blood test, known as a ‘liquid biopsy’. On this Phase II trial, we aim to assess whether liquid biopsies can replace standard, invasive biopsies and help improve treatment for women with advanced breast cancer.

What will the trial involve?

We’ll recruit 1,000 patients with advanced breast cancer from across the UK. The liquid biopsies we take from them will be screened for several genetic mutations in the cancer. Patients identified as having one of these mutations will be selected to receive treatment that specifically targets it.

How will this benefit patients?

It will help us to determine whether a liquid biopsy is a reliable test that may spare future breast cancer patients from having invasive biopsies. We’ll also use liquid biopsies to identify new treatment options for these women.

When will we see results?

We aim to have the first results in 2018.

Which other centres are taking part?

About 40 sites across the UK will be opened to gain consent from patients for ctDNA screening and to take blood samples. Of these, around 20 will also be treatment centres. The trial is funded by the Biomedical Research Centre at The Royal Marsden and the ICR, and Cancer Research UK.