“I think it’s really important that people keep signing up to these type of trials to push research forward.”
A study looking at how to test the genes in cancer cells (Stratified Medicine Programme One - SMP1)
This study was looking at how to test for changes in the genes of cancer cells. It was part of the Cancer Research UK Stratified Medicine Programme.
Doctors decide on how to treat a cancer by looking at
- What type of cancer it is
- Where it is in your body
- The size of cancer
- What the cancer cells look like
We know that this works for many people but not for all. This could be because there are slight differences in the cancer cells from person to person even if they have the same type of cancer. So researchers have been looking in detail at the differences between cancer cells.
They've found that some cancer cells have particular proteins in the cell and others don’t. Or sometimes cancer cells have far more of a particular protein than healthy cells. These differences between cells are caused by changes to the genes in the cancer cells.
Researchers wanted to look at a way to test for these genetic changes. They hope that this will lead to doctors being better able to match treatment to the changes in the genes of cancer cells. This is called stratified medicine.
To do this, the researchers needed to collect samples of cancer tissue from a large number of people and test them for genetic changes. They also gathered information about what treatment they had and what happened to them.
The researchers also wanted to find out what the costs are to do this and how this type of testing could be embedded into the NHS.
Summary of results
In this first part of the Stratified Medicine Programme, researchers collected samples from 9,010 people who had cancers such as lung, prostate, ovarian, melanoma, bowel and breast cancer. They looked at the different genetic changes (mutations) in the samples they tested. This information will be used for research but no patients had treatment as a result of these tests.
This study led to the next part of the programme called SMP2 which is testing for genetic changes in a type of lung cancer called non small cell lung cancer. Each person who takes part in SMP2 has part of their tumour and a blood sample sent for analysis. Researchers will look for 28 different genetic mutations. Based on the genetic mutation found, patients may be eligible to take part in the National Lung Matrix Trial.
How to join a clinical trial
Professor Peter Johnson
Cancer Research UK
Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC)
NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer