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UK project will find rare cancer treatments

Tuesday December 21st 2021

British scientists today launch an ambitious project to treat rare cancers by using genetic testing to repurpose existing drugs.

The project, known as the DETERMINE trial, will be a multi-drug, precision medicine platform trial, according to its developers – and one of the largest trials of its kind, using a unique design.

Developers say the design could mean that newly identified treatments get fast track approval for use in the NHS. Together rare cancers make up 22% of the cancers diagnosed worldwide every year.

The project is to be led by the University of Manchester with backing from the University of Birmingham and two specialist hospitals, the Royal Marsden in London and the Christie in Manchester. It is to be sponsored and managed by Cancer Research UK.

Chief investigator Dr Matthew Krebs said: "Patients with rare cancer often have few treatment options available and it's vitally important we increase our research efforts for these patients.

"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. We will undertake in-depth research to understand which patients with rare cancers could benefit from these treatments.

“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."

Ian Foulkes, from Cancer Research UK, said: "With numerous researchers involved nationwide and potentially around 850 people with rare cancers taking part, this trial represents a significant undertaking by Cancer Research UK and our partners.

"But what makes this even more exciting is that we will be able to fast track the approval of any promising drugs, opening the 'door' to treatments for patients who have historically been left with limited options."

[Trial details]

Tags: Cancer | Pharmaceuticals | UK News

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