The Children’s Oncology Group (COG) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and have begun collaborating on a new project, to be known as the Pediatric Molecular Analysis for Therapy Choice (Pediatric MATCH), to study targeted therapies in childhood cancers.
A total of 35 solid pediatric tumors are being considered in the study, including soft tissue sarcoma, non-Hodkins lymphoma (marginal zone lymphoma, mantle cell lymphoma, etc.), and neuroblastoma.
Researchers are intending to screen a total of 1,000 of these cancer patients total, but only about 10% of these patients will have genetic mutations that can be grouped with one of the targeted therapies and thus will be eligible for the trial. Each patient, who has solid tumors that have worsened despite the administration of standard therapy, will be matched (according to their own specific genetic mutations) to 1 of 8 different experimental drugs. Currently, seven of these drugs are listed online. Visit clinicaltrials.gov to see this official list.
The first step for this screening process is for a tumor sample to be taken from each patient. It will then undergo sequencing, in order to detect the child’s specific genetic abnormalities. If one out of the eight drugs (listed above) can target that abnormality, then the patent will be chosen for that particular subsection of the study.
Yes, Pediatric MATCH is special for its size and scale, but it is also special because it is the only trial of its scale exploring targeted treatments for childhood cancers that have been caused by specific genetic abnormalities.
The acting director of the NCI, Dr. Douglas R. Lowy, described in a recent press release that the nature of these “precision medicine trials,” using molecular analysis, will have the ability to expedite current progress in the process of identifying more effective cancer treatments, especially for relapsed and refractory cases.
Further, it will also help look into a possible inheritance role of pediatric cancers, which will allow researchers to be able to aid the attending physician in giving guidance to the patient’s family, explains the co-chair of the study, Dr. Will Parsons.
Needless to say, this study will be a long and tedious process, but hopefully, what comes out of it is a much better way to catalyze research for children with cancer.
And we really need that.
To find out more about this exciting new clinical trial program click The National Cancer Institute’s press release here and an awesome write-up in the Rare Disease Report here!