MCRC Director’s Update – February 2022
Hello everyone. Following on from our special MCRC Bulletin to mark World Cancer Day last month, this is the first time I am updating you on the exciting science and discoveries from the MCRC, and so I trust that everyone had a great break and has had an enjoyable start to 2022 so far.
News of Manchester’s clinical trials prowess is taking centre stage in my update this month, with several trials have reached critical milestones over the course of the past three months.
DETERMINE trial – Treating patients with rare tumours
At the end of 2021, The University of Manchester announced a partnership with Cancer Research UK and Roche to run the DETERMINE trial with further support coming from The University of Birmingham, and The Royal Marsden and The Christie NHS Foundation Trusts. This trial, which is being led by Dr Matthew Krebs from The Christie, aims to understand whether drugs licensed for certain types of cancers can also be used on other cancers to target specific genetic faults in an individual’s specific cancer.
Ultimately, this trial has the potential to offer new treatments to children and adults with rare tumours where previously there might have been few available. DETERMINE opens for patient recruitment in Summer 2022 and we look forward to seeing how it develops over the coming months.
Patients with rare cancer often have few treatment options available and it’s vitally important we increase our research efforts for these patients. With technological advances in genetic testing we’ve learned that some rare tumours contain genetic abnormalities which may benefit from targeted treatment currently only available for more common cancer types. We will undertake in-depth research to understand which patients with rare cancers could benefit from these treatments.
Dr Matthew Krebs
Chief Investigator for the DETERMINE trial at The University of Manchester and The Christie NHS Foundation Trust
TARGET National – Matching patients to personalised medicines
Our next clinical trial success comes by way of the continued rollout of the TARGET National initiative. TARGET National follows on from the strong foundations laid by the TARGET trial that began back in 2017, which used liquid biopsies and genetic analysis to match patients to personalised medicine clinical trials. Now, this successful initiative is being rolled out across the country recruiting thousands of cancer patients from 18 cancer centres from across the UK.
TARGET National is also led by Dr Matthew Krebs from The Christie, with the aim of this trial to potentially provide additional treatment options to patients with solid tumours who might have exhausted all other options.
STAMPEDE results published
Finally, the culmination of over six years of research from the STAMPEDE trial, involving researchers from Manchester, have now been published in The Lancet. The findings reveal that the addition of abiraterone acetate, a new type of hormone therapy to a treatment course, is associated with significantly higher rates of metastasis-free survival in men with advanced prostate cancer.
STAMPEDE is the only major high volume prostate intervention trial in the world in this type of prostate cancer and this research is a game changer for men with high-risk, locally confined disease. Up to 60% of prostate cancer deaths occur in men who present with this condition and the use of this drug combination would make a major difference to the chance of long-term survival following treatment in this patient population.
Professor Noel Clarke
Co-Principal Investigator of STAMPEDE
World Cancer Day
February 4th marked World Cancer Day, a day to acknowledge and promote cancer awareness, and the research and treatments taking place to improve the outcomes for patients. This year, we marked the occasion with a series of events and activities from across the MCRC.
As we shared in the last MCRC Bulletin, this World Cancer Day, we launched On Cancer, our latest publication containing a collection of research stories that provided detailed real-world evidence and outlined clear policy recommendations to improve the lives of those living with cancer. You can read all about On Cancer on the Policy@Manchester’s website. Over the course of the next few weeks and months, you will continue to see more about these stories as we host a series of events and other promotional activities.
On World Cancer Day, I also delivered my annual MCRC Directors Address to outline the past year of discoveries from Manchester researchers and look ahead to the next year. One of the main focuses of the next year of cancer research innovations is our approach to equality, diversity and inclusivity, and how we need to deliver precision medicine approaches for all. This approach is particularly important at the Cancer Research UK Manchester Centre, where EDI is being integrated into all the core activities across the centre.
After this address I was also joined by Dr Suzanne Johnson, Prof. Keith Brennan, Banji Adewumi and Dr George Njoroge, for a panel discussion about cancer research on an international scale. We had a great discussion about how we can incorporate inclusive research strategies and the talked about the importance of considering a global approach to our research programmes.
‘Let’s Talk About…’ Equality Diversity and Inclusion
Continuing with the theme of Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity, in January, we also launched our new series as a collaboration between the CRUK Manchester Centre and CRUK Barts Centre; ‘Let’s Talk About…’. Our first seminar focused on ‘Let’s Talk about LGBTQ+ in Cancer Research’.
With myself, Dr Dan Saunders Consultant in Clinical Oncology from The Christie, Dr Alison Berner, Medical Oncologist at the CRUK Barts Centre, and Dr David Bryant, Group Leader at the CRUK Beatson Institute speaking, it provided great personal reflections about our individual experiences in cancer research. I’m also very grateful for David Bryant for organising an article in the Journal of Cell Sciences to mark LGBT History Month. The article is now published and available in this latest issue of JCS.
The next seminar in our ‘Let’s Talk About…’ series is taking place on the 7th of March 2022 and will focus on Women in Cancer with the keynote speaker being Dr Jessica Okosun. If you’re interested, find out more about the speaker and the panel after the event, and sign up via Eventbrite.
I’ll close this month’s update by wishing everyone a productive March. Stay safe and well and I’ll look froward to updating you all again at the end of the month.