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Cancer researchers across the UK partner in new trial to find drugs for rare cancers

The DETERMINE trial aims to discover whether existing ‘licensed’ drugs could also benefit patients with rare cancer types that the drug is not currently licensed for.

Cancer Research UK, The University of Manchester and Roche announced a collaboration to run a multi-drug, precision medicine platform trial for adults and children with rare cancers, who have run out of other treatment options.

The new trial, called DETERMINE, will be one of the largest precision medicine platform trials targeting these groups. It will enrol patients who have an identifiable genetic alteration in their cancer, which can be targeted by treatments that are already approved for use in other cancer types.

Any treatment which is revealed to benefit patients on the trial could receive rapid approval on the NHS.

Under the terms of the collaboration, Cancer Research UK’s Centre for Drug Development will sponsor and manage the trial, and Roche will provide seven of their targeted therapies to be evaluated.

The trial aims to recruit patients with rare adult and paediatric cancers, as well as more common cancers with rare genetic alterations that could be targeted by the drugs being studied in the trial. Globally, rare cancers make up 22 out of every 100 (22%) cancers that are diagnosed each year – more than any single type of cancer.

Dr Matthew Krebs, the chief investigator for the DETERMINE trial at The University of Manchester and The Christie NHS Foundation Trust, 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 are 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.”