Patients with advanced cancers have longer responses to treatment when those treatments are tailored to the individual as opposed to receiving conventional therapies, according to the results of a clinical trial presented at the recent Molecular Analysis for Personalised Therapy (MAP) conference in London.
The study enrolled patients with a number of advanced cancers, including prostate, breast, lung, head and neck, bladder, stomach, and bowel cancer, and is the first of its kind to demonstrate that precision medicine can increase the time it takes for a tumor to grow back, and that this holds true in different types of cancer.
“This is the first precision medicine trial to show that analysing a person’s DNA improves treatment options for patients with late stage cancer,” Jean Charles Soria, the trial’s principal investigator with the Gustave Roussy Cancer Campus, in France, said in a press release. “And these results are particularly exciting because in some cases we were testing experimental drugs, and found that we could slow down the growth of tumours in around one in five patients with advanced cancer.”
The trial, conducted at the Paris-area campus, enrolled 1,110 patients with advanced cancer, who had their genes mapped to look for mutations that could be targeted with drugs, including experimental therapies. All participants had already tried three or more cancer therapies, and had no other treatment options available.
Researchers found that 411 patients had potentially faulty molecules to target, and experimental drugs were ideal to target such molecules in 199 of them. Importantly, patients who received tailored experimental drugs had nearly 30 percent more time (a range of 5 to 32 months) before their cancer started growing again, compared to any of the previous therapies they had received.
“The great thing about this is that it’s not just for one type of cancer — patients with many different types of cancer could benefit from this [precision treatment] in the future,” said Christophe Massard, head of the early drug development multidisciplinary committee at Gustave Roussy.
“This is an exciting time for precision medicine and personalised treatment,” added Rowena Sharpe, head of precision medicine at Cancer Research UK. “It’s fantastic to see continued effort going into this area and it’s important that we make the most of the data that we already have. The MAP meeting brings together expertise from across the globe to find the best ways to improve precision medicine programmes for cancer patients.”