Study shows patients can benefit from personalized cancer therapy

Scientists from the University of California San Diego School of Medicine have reported that patients, who are receiving care for advanced cancer at Moores Cancer Center at UC San Diego Health, have a greater chance to experience or survive a longer period without any progression of their disease, if they received personalized cancer treatment.

Study shows patients can benefit from personalized cancer therapy
Razelle Kurzrock, MD, director of the Center for Personalized Cancer Therapy at Moores Cancer Center. Image Credit: University of California, San Diego.

Headed by Razelle Kurzrock, MD, director of the Center for Personalized Cancer Therapy at Moores Cancer Center and the study’s senior author, a multidisciplinary molecular tumor board was created to advise the treating doctors on the course of care using the molecular tumor makeup of an individual patient to design precision medicine approaches.

Patients who underwent a molecular tumor board-recommended therapy were better matched to genomic alterations in their cancer and had improved outcomes. The three-year survival for patients with the highest degree of matching and who received a personalized cancer therapy was approximately 55 percent compared to 25 percent in patients who received therapy that was unmatched or had low degrees of matching.”

Razelle Kurzrock, MD, Study Senior Author, Director of Center for Personalized Cancer Therapy, Moores Cancer Center

The team reported that among the 429 patients assessed by the molecular tumor board, 62% were matched to at least one medication, while 20% of patients corresponded to all the recommended medications, including combination therapies. The study was reported in the online issue of the Nature Communications journal on October 2nd, 2020.

The tumor board worked in an advisory role and the treating physicians did not apply the recommended strategy of the board in 38% of cases, and instead opted for a standard therapy method that might not have matched with the genetic alterations of the patient, or had a low degree of matching. Such patients not only experienced a lower progression-free survival and also experienced overall survival rates.

According to Shumei Kato, MD, an associate professor of medicine at UC San Diego School of Medicine and the study’s first author, the use of next-generation sequencing helps identify new potential targets for cancer patients to enhance outcomes; however, there are difficulties to using this method on a broader scale.

One of the hurdles is that every cancer patient appears to be carrying different molecular and genomic patterns despite having the same cancer type.”

Shumei Kato, MD, Study First Author and Associate Professor of Medicine, UC San Diego School of Medicine

Dr Kato is also a Moores Cancer Center medical oncologist specializing in gastrointestinal and rare cancers.

This can be challenging since we are customizing therapy based on the unique genomic pattern patients have, and thus it is difficult to predict the response. In addition, this approach requires multidisciplinary expertise as well as access to drugs or clinical trials not always available in smaller practices.”

Shumei Kato, MD, Study First Author and Associate Professor of Medicine, UC San Diego School of Medicine

The molecular tumor board at Moores Cancer Center comprises specialists in basic, clinical, and transitional research and also genetics, radiology, bioinformatics, pathology, and doctors in multiple specialties, like surgical, medical, and radiation oncology.

But according to the researchers, additional clinical studies with a larger sample size are needed to detect the matching score thresholds that establish the benefits of a precision medicine strategy.

Source:
Journal reference:

Kato, S., et al. (2020) Real-world data from a molecular tumor board demonstrates improved outcomes with a precision N-of-One strategy. Nature Communications. doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-18613-3.

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