MRI of brain cancer

Pioneering clinical trial helping brain cancer patients as researchers plan for expansion

Researchers in Cambridge have helped improve health outcomes for than 140 patients by harnessing the power of genomics as part of a landmark cancer clinical trial.

The pioneering Minderoo Precision Brain Tumour Programme was launched 16 months ago and only originally aimed to recruit around 125 patients but has already managed to enrol 140 people in just over a year.

The trial takes patients with an especially aggressive form of brain cancer called glioblastoma and offers them a more detailed diagnosis and a tailored treatment plan.

The initiative is a collaboration between The Minderoo Foundation, The Tessa Jowell Brain Cancer Mission, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (CUH), the University of Cambridge and an industry partner.

Since its launch, the programme has helped to:

  • Identify potential drug options for over 90% of patients;
  • Recommend precision therapies for 11% of patients;
  • Improve diagnosis and treatment plans for 3% of patients.

Crucially though, only 20 days is needed from the point of surgery to get the results from the genomic sequencing, which is significantly faster than previous methods.

The man leading the project, Richard Mair, consultant neurosurgeon at CUH, said: “The Minderoo Precision Brain Tumour Programme is giving patients hope; it’s showing and demonstrating that we are moving forwards.

“Sequencing of the DNA and RNA within tumour cells helps us to make more precise diagnoses, helps to make prognoses clearer, helps to determine the best treatment options, and helps to guide patients towards clinical trials for which they might be eligible.

"This incredibly exciting new programme enables us to analyse the mutations driving a patient’s tumour in real-time. We hope to use this information to identify whether any new, targeted treatments can be offered to these patients.”

The researchers hope to roll out the programme to more than 200 patients over the next three years.

Head of Personalised Cancer Care for The Minderoo Foundation’s Collaborate Against Cancer initiative, Aileen Boyd-Squires, added: “This programme has already demonstrated direct clinical benefit for patients.

“The data generated by the comprehensive genomic sequencing will help us to identify tumour-specific mutations which can be targeted by specialised treatments. Our hope is that this pilot can expand to other NHS centres so that more patients can benefit.

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