An international consortium led by scientists from the Cancer Research UK London Research Institute, The Royal Marsden Hospital and the Technical University of Denmark has been granted nearly £5million (5.8 million Euros) by the European Union to identify gene targets for personalised treatment for kidney cancer patients.
The PREDICT research consortium will screen the entire gene set in kidney cancer patients to identify which genes regulate cancer cell growth in a low oxygen environment.
This will enable the scientists to better understand how cancer cells respond to drugs blocking growth of blood vessels to tumours – a process called anti-angiogenesis. Cutting off blood supply can starve a tumour of oxygen and important nutrients, which destroys it.
The consortium will examine which of these genes can predict response to treatment with anti-angiogenesis drugs in patients treated within clinical trials.
Dr Charles Swanton, head of Translational Cancer Therapeutics at Cancer Research UK’s London Research Institute, together with Zoltan Szallasi at the Danish Technical University will lead the scientific arm of the consortium.
Dr Swanton, said: “This exciting opportunity means clinicians and scientists across several European centres of excellence can work together to find ways to match kidney cancer patients with the treatments that will work best for them.
“We hope the results will allow more patients to access the most effective therapies while reducing the use of less beneficial treatment.”
“We are carrying out this research in kidney cancer patients because they respond especially well to drugs that block blood vessel growth. We hope to roll out similar projects across different types of cancer in due course.”
The patients will be treated at the Royal Marsden Hospital supervised by Dr James Larkin, at the Institut Gustave Roussy in Villejuif, supervised by Professor Bernard Escudier and at European Georges Pompidou Hospital in Paris, supervised by Professor Stephane Oudard.
Dr James Larkin said: “Making personalised treatment a clinical reality is a challenge. We fully endorse patient involvement in clinical trials and it is increasingly becoming part of a patient’s cancer care. There are a number of benefits to patients who are involved in clinical trials. When conventional treatments are limited, trials like these open up new options.”
Dr Lesley Walker, director of cancer information at Cancer Research UK, said: “Personalised medicine could transform the lives of cancer patients in the UK. The ultimate aim is to treat every patient as an individual, and although we are still some way off, this research into kidney cancer will bring us one step closer.
“Cancer Research UK is leading the way towards an era of targeted medicine. We’ve already made many advances that have led to more tailored treatments and our research spans many areas of cancer – from hunting for faulty genes through to developing new targeted treatments.”
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The consortium formed by the team is called PREDICT (Personalised RNA interference to Enhance the Delivery of Individualised Chemotherapeutics and Targeted therapies).The clinical arm of the PREDICT consortium will be led by Dr James Larkin, a consultant kidney cancer medical oncologist at the Royal Marsden Hospital.
For more information visit: www.predictconsortium.eu
The other scientific consortium members are: Technical University of Denmark, Semmelweis University, Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Horizon Discovery, EPO-Berlin, NMI Natural and Medical Sciences Institute, Reutlingen and Bayer Pharmaceuticals . The clinical consortium members are: The Royal Marsden and the Institute of Cancer Research, European Georges Pompidou Hospital, and Institute Gustave Roussy.
The research will expand on previous work published by Dr Swanton’s group to study individual genes identified in patients’ tumours using a technique called RNA-interference. This method blocks every gene in the patient’s cells one by one, then tests the ability of the resulting cancer cells to survive when they are treated with different drugs or left to grow under low oxygen conditions.