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London Institutes Create Personalized Clinical Lung Cancer Program

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – A collection of London research institutes and hospitals have banded together to launch an initiative to develop genetically tailored treatments for thousands of lung cancer patients, the Institute for Cancer Research said today.

The partners involved in the new London Lung Cancer Alliance plan to use tumor sequencing and genetic testing to personalize treatments for up to 3,000 lung cancer patients a year in London and in five other cities.

The clinical research program will cover the entire lung cancer pathway, ICR said, from screening and identification of people who are at risk through to the end stages of the disease.

The investigators will conduct tumor sequencing and will test a panel of targeted therapies —many of which have not been used for lung cancer before — in patients with particular molecular defects.

The partners also plan to develop a liquid biopsy blood test for patients who are too ill for other forms of biopsy, for monitoring whether drugs are working, and to assess signs of resistance to the drugs.

The partners also plan to offer gene testing of patients' cancer when they are diagnosed and to offer one of a panel of targeted therapies based on their cancer's specific molecular defects, ICR said.

ICR also said that the alliance members will work with pharmaceutical companies to get access to a wide range of existing cancer therapies that will now be tested in lung cancer trials for the first time.

Because some of these drugs may be targeted at molecular defects that may occur in a very small proportion of lung cancers, a large number of participants are needed for the trial program.

The alliance members also plan to study screening, early detection, lung cancer prevention across high-risk groups, including patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

"It is only by academia, the [National Health Service] and industry working together that we can make real progress against diseases such as lung cancer, where low expectations and poor survival rates have become entrenched," Sally Davies, the chief medical officer for England, said in a statement.

Along with ICR, the other alliance partners include Imperial College London; Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust; King's College London; Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust; the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust; St. George's Healthcare NHS Trust; and Barts Cancer Institute at Queen Mary, University of London.

The initial project funding will be provided by the alliance partners, but they also will be applying for grants from government agencies and major non-profits, ICR Director of Communications Richard Hoey told GenomeWeb Daily News in an email.