Cutting Edge Precision Medicine Trial Available for Cancer Patients

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Precision medicine is likely the next big thing in cancer news. What is precision medicine? It’s a treatment approach that takes into account individual differences in people’s genes, environments, and lifestyles. Precision medicine gives clinicians tools to better understand the complex mechanisms underlying a patient’s health, disease, or condition, and to better predict which treatments will be most effective. Thanks to Iowa Oncology Research Association (IORA) and John Stoddard Cancer Center, patients no longer need to travel far from home to enroll in a large precision medicine trial. 

“If you look at two people with the same type and stage of cancer, why does one patient well and the other doesn’t?” asked Dr. Robert Behrens, local principal investigator of the study. “This study looks at treating patients based on the individuality of their tumor rather than simply their cancer type and stage.” 

IORA is taking part in the Molecular Analysis for Therapy Choice (MATCH) clinical trial. MATCH is a national precision medicine trial that explores treating patients based on the molecular profiles of their tumors.  MATCH is for adults with solid tumor and lymphomas that no longer respond to standard treatment. The trial opened for enrollment in August 2015 with 10 treatments, closed for an interim analysis, and has now re-opened with 24 treatments. Each treatment will enroll adults with advanced solid tumors and lymphomas that are no longer responding (or never responded) to standard therapy and have begun to grow. 

About 5,000 cancer patients will be screened with a tumor biopsy. The biopsied tumor tissue will undergo gene sequencing. Gene sequencing will look for changes in 143 genes. If a patient’s tumor has a genetic abnormality that matches one targeted by a drug used in the trial, the patient will be eligible to join the treatment portion of the MATCH trial. Not all patients will have tumors with an abnormality that matches a drug being tested. Patients with tumors that share the same genetic abnormality, regardless of tumor type, will receive the drug that targets that abnormality. The drugs included in the trial have all either been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for another cancer indication or are still being tested in other clinical trials but have shown some effectiveness against tumors with a particular genetic alteration(s). 

Once enrolled, patients will be treated with the targeted drug for as long as their tumor shrinks or remains stable. The trial covers the cost of the biopsy and molecular tests, and patients will receive the drugs without charge if they are eligible to enroll for an NCI-MATCH treatment.

Do you have cancer that has returned or gotten worse after standard treatment, or has no standard treatment? If so, consider asking your doctor about this study. Visit www.iora.org for more information.