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Novartis joins Cancer Research UK on rare cancers study

DETERMINE trial aims to discover if current treatments could benefit patients with other cancer types

Cancer Research UK’s DETERMINE trial – which was launched in November – has been boosted by the addition of Novartis. The research project is a multi-drug, precision medicine trial and is open to paediatric and adult patients with any rare cancer type.

Novartis will accompany Roche in providing access to oncology treatments throughout the trial, with the Centre for Drug Development managing the trial and the University of Manchester leading it.

The DETERMINE trial aims to discover whether current treatments, including those licensed for more common types of cancer, could benefit patients with other rare cancer types for which the drug is not licensed for.

The trial’s patients have undergone genetic screening and found that they have one of the particular genetic mutations in their cancer that can be targeted by a specific drug on the trial.

Meanwhile, any company with a targeted oncology agent that has already been licensed and would like the opportunity to evaluate an agent in rare indications not included is encouraged to join the trial.

The structure of DETERMINE’s design means that any treatment, which appears to be working for patients on the trial, will be submitted to the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) for review. The CDF team – working with NHS England Clinical Policy team – will then decide whether a period of data collection is appropriate to assess if the drug could be used as a routine treatment option on the NHS.

A first trial site has opened at the Christie NHS Foundation Trust with others to follow, including the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, the University of Glasgow and the University of Birmingham, as well as sites across the entire adult and paediatric Experimental Cancer Medicine Centres (ECMC) network.

Dr Gerrit Zijlstra, chief medical officer at Novartis UK, commented: “At Novartis we are committed to reimagining medicine, and we are delighted to partner with Cancer Research UK and the University of Manchester to explore further potential of our innovative treatments in changing outcomes for adults, teenagers and children with rare cancers.”

Dr Nigel Blackburn director of drug development at Cancer Research UK’s Centre for Drug Development, explained: “We are incredibly proud to bring on another renowned multinational pharmaceutical partner so soon after the trial’s launch. With another collaborator on board, we can open up the trial to even more patients with rare cancers who have been traditionally underserved.”

He added: “But this momentum needs to continue in order to benefit as many patients as possible and we implore any companies who think that their drugs could be used on the trial to reach out to us.”

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