NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Cancer Research UK said yesterday that it has launched a multicenter personalized medicine project with industrial partners Pfizer and AstraZeneca that will seek to demonstrate how genetic tests could be used to match cancer patients to the treatments that work best for them.
The Stratified Medicine Programme, which has now begun recruiting patients to provide samples, aims to establish a genetic testing service in the UK that shows how the National Health Service could be using genetic tests in clinical treatment.
The program will be supported by seven of CRUK's Experimental Cancer Medicine Centres (ECMCs), which will ask up to 9,000 patients to participate in the first phase of the project. They will initially focus on six types of tumors including breast, bowel, lung, prostate, ovarian, skin cancer, and melanoma.
The ECMCs include The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) in London, Leeds, Edinburgh, Cambridge, Cardiff, Glasgow, and Manchester. In total, they cover more than 20 hospitals across the across the country.
In the first phase of the program, researchers will work with genetic testing labs to provide panel tests and with hospitals to collect standardized tumor data. The second phase of the project, which is not scheduled to begin for more than two years, will take the lessons that have been learned about cancer tumors and treatment and expand it to the national level through a partnership with the National Health Service and the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.
The program is funded by CRUK's Catalyst Club and by AstraZeneca and Pfizer with £5.5 million ($8.6 million).
"We know that prescribing certain drugs according to the genetic basis of the tumor can improve the chances of successful treatment. And by hardwiring research into the day-to-day care of cancer patients, we can harness the power of the NHS to bring personalized medicine a step closer to reality," James Peach, director of CRUK's Stratified Medicine Programme, said in a statement.
"This program marks the beginning of the journey, and there is much to be done before we can bring the benefits of personalized medicine to every cancer patient," he added. "But I'm confident that within the next few years we'll see personalized medicine changing the face of cancer treatment and saving many more lives from cancer."
The testing will be conducted by ICR, London, the Cardiff All Wales Regional Molecular Genetics Laboratory, and the West Midlands Regional Genetics Laboratory, where participants' DNA will be extracted and analyzed for cancer markers linked to cancer and cancer drugs.