‘Game-changing’ cancer treatment on the horizon

Drugs that can target any type of tumour are being fast-tracked in the UK.

cancer treatment

Revolutionary “game-changing” cancer drugs that researchers say can target any type of tumour are being fast-tracked by the National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom.

NHS chief executive Simon Stevens says the drugs, referred to as “tumour-agnostic” drugs, offer huge benefits to thousands of patients previously regarded as untreatable, according to a report on website news-medical.net.

Mr Stevens told a conference that tumour-agnostic drugs could target any type of cancer, irrespective of where in the body it originated or the tissue type in which it developed.

He said the NHS had to be ready to fast-track the drugs in the same way as it had CAR-T cell therapies for cancer. CAR-T therapies are a form of immunotherapy that uses specially altered T cells to precisely target cancer cells.

The report explains that most cancer drugs target a tumour that has developed in a particular organ or tissue. A tumour-agnostic drug treatment treats any kind of cancer and can be used when the tumour has a very specific molecular alteration that is targeted by the drug or predicts that the drug is likely to work.

“This means they can be used to treat a range of cancer types, shrinking tumours in up to 75 per cent of cases,” said Mr Stevens. “Two drugs that do this are due to be made available within months.”

The genetic flaw that the new drugs target is a neurotropic tyrosine receptor kinase (NTRK) gene fusion. The alteration is most commonly found in rare cancers such as infantile fibrosarcoma but is also present at low levels in more common cancers.

The drugs work by blocking NTRK, which results in shrinkage of the tumour.

One of the drugs was developed by Bayer and the other by Roche.

Mr Stevens has urged drug manufacturers to establish treatment prices that are fair and affordable.

Ian Walker, director of clinical research at Cancer Research UK, said: “The concept of focusing on specific mutations that drive a person's disease, versus the cancer type, is a fascinating one.

“Whilst this approach may not work in all cases, where the weight of clinical evidence supports the approach, this could open up opportunities for cancer treatment that we wouldn't have had 20 years ago.

“It's essential that patients are offered routine genetic analysis of their tumours, no matter where they live, to match them to appropriate treatments, such as these drugs.”

Dr Alia Kaderbhai says GPs should not lose sight of the importance of risk reduction.

Speaking about developments in the screening of a variety of cancers, she said: “As primary healthcare professionals our key role is in risk reduction, in particular with regard to lifestyle modifications.

“We still really need to be focusing on preventive health, such as exercise, weight control, limiting alcohol consumption [and] not smoking.”

Are you excited by developments in treating cancers? In which key areas would you like to see similar breakthroughs?

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    25th Jun 2019
    I'm absolutely excited by developments in treating cancers as I have lost too many good friends lately. Anything that science can come up with to counteract this insidious disease that strikes at all levels of humanity is most welcome.
    25th Jun 2019
    Indeed good news, hopefully it becomes available in Australia.

    25th Jun 2019
    Indeed good news, hopefully it becomes available in Australia.

    26th Jun 2019
    It will, Neil, in about 5 years time , as always !!
    Pass the Ductape
    27th Jun 2019
    Yet - as always, the regime of notification about promising treatments of cancer continues to be drip fed to cancer sufferers. Considering it won't be long before one in every three of us will have contacted the decease in some part of the body, it is to be hoped that the cost of treatment of cancers reflects common decency, not simply continue to line the pockets of overly-rich pharmaceutical overlords.
    25th Jun 2019
    I am excited by some medications, but not by the promise of these.
    25th Jun 2019
    I was diagnosed with stage 4 terminal melanoma last September. Doctor told me I could only last another 6 to 12 months as the melanoma has travelled to my brain. The put me on an immumotherapy programme and after 5 months of treatment all signs of melanoma are non existent. Believe me these targeted therapy programmes do work in a lot cases. The doctors and staff at the Melanoma Institute in Sydney saved my life. I will be forever grateful and indebted to them.
    25th Jun 2019
    Razor, fantastic to hear your story and best wishes for your future. An 80 year old friend of ours had incurable lung cancer last year and was not expected to make last Christmas. After immunotherapy he is now on a driving holiday in on the north coast. Keep well..
    25th Jun 2019
    Thanks so much Viking. I'm in Bali as we speak, my second home. Great to hear of your friends recovery. They way research is progressing many types of cancer will be curable in the not to distant future. To anyone reading this who has cancer of any form, trust your medical expert, stay positive and live your life.
    25th Jun 2019
    Razor, best news I've heard in a long time. Very best wishes to you & long may you live cancer free!
    25th Jun 2019
    Thank you for the kind words Gypsy. As I said earlier without the dedicated team at the Melanoma Institute I would not be here. Best of health to you also.
    27th Jun 2019
    Your story and that of Viking's gives hope for the future Razor, keep well but enjoy life.
    30th Jun 2019
    Fast tracked which means not much research and trials, I would be very wary. Prevent cancer by eating lots of fresh fruit and veggies, get off the fats, eggs and dairy which all feed viruses which feed cancer cells. Not to mention alcohol/smokes.

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