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The Front Line

 

The Front Line: Charles D. Blanke, MD, SWOG Chair
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NCTN Teams Up for Precision Medicine Innovation

August 25, 2017 - Last month, the Children’s Oncology Group launched Pediatric MATCH, a trial testing precision medicine treatments in children and teens. Kids with cancer aged 1 to 21 with advanced solid tumors who are not responding to standard treatment are eligible. Participants have their tumors assessed for as many as 160 possible genetic alterations. Based on the changes detected, patients receive a targeted drug.

Do treatments assigned based on tumor genetics – rather than histology or site – work in the pediatric population? Is this paradigm better than the current standards? Do new genetic changes emerge after initial treatment? Pediatric MATCH aims to find out.

The launch of this exciting trial means that all five groups in the NCI’s National Clinical Trials Network (NCTN) are now contributing to precision trials within the NCTN.

I am proud that SWOG led the way in 2014, launching Lung-MAP, an umbrella trial testing squamous cell lung cancer treatments. The Alliance runs another precision lung trial – Alchemist. ECOG-ACRIN also designed and oversees NCI-MATCH for adults, which, incredibly, reached its 6,000-patient screening goal in June – two years early! And NRG is enrolling patients to Lung-MAP, Alchemist, and MATCH. So, every NCTN group is actively contributing in the precision arena.

Besides being wildly exciting inherently, these trials illustrate the increased collaboration in our network. Success of big precision trials depends on cross-network screening and enrollment. And, in a revision currently being planned for Lung-MAP, other NCTN groups will more actively run new arms of this trial.

More evidence of teamwork is a retreat coming up in just a few weeks, when leadership from the NCTN groups will convene in Chicago to talk about long-term strategy and how we can innovate together.

Executive officers, chairs of large disease committees, and patient advocates will develop a list of “provocative questions” for the network – the issues and topics we need to tackle in the next five years. We’ll also certainly talk about how we can best support junior investigators, and achieve greater operational efficiencies.

The NCTN was founded out of the NCI’s old cooperative group program, with a fairly major consolidation. This process had many important goals. Now the NCI has created a large-scale, close-knit network that can genetically screen large numbers of patients, which is necessary to run precision trials. I believe, as the first NCTN grant cycle draws to a close, that network is ready – and working!

I’ll report back in September about the NCTN retreat, and where we’re headed.

SWOG's new website launches in November, and you'll need to be sure you have proper credentials to log-in. Check here for details.

Abstracts are coming due for the ASCO GI Cancers Symposium. Please send yours to SWOG Publications Manager Pat Arlauskas for processing no later than Sept. 13.

 
     
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