A new collaborative program to ready the UK's National Health Service (NHS) for personalized cancer care is underway. The £5.5 ($8.7) million Stratified Medicine Programme, led by the charity Cancer Research UK in partnership with the National Health Service and London-based AstraZeneca and New York-based Pfizer, aims to develop a standardized national genetic screening service to help tailor oncology treatments for patients. The initiative will store clinical data from 9,000 individuals with breast, bowel, lung, prostate, ovary and skin cancers, along with the molecular diagnosis of their tumors, to develop a multigene panel to guide personalized cancer care across the UK. Genetic stratification allows clinicians to determine which individuals will respond to which treatment, for instance, KRAS testing in bowel cancer to see if Amgen's Vectibix (panitumumab) and Imclone's Erbitux (cetuximab) is indicated. Currently, only a minority of NHS patients receive such tests. “The Stratified Medicine Programme will improve genetic testing in the UK,” says James Peach, director of the program. “It will also provide hypotheses about the interaction between drug and tumor, which will help companies design better cancer clinical trials.” Peach noted that there has been a surge in approvals for drugs with companion diagnostics. So far, there are no other biotech companies involved in the project.
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Clinical application of high-throughput genomic technologies for treatment selection in breast cancer
Breast Cancer Research (2013)