CHICAGO (FRONTLINE MEDICAL NEWS) – It’s getting very personal in oncology, and that’s a very good thing.

At the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, major cancer organizations announced new precision medicine initiatives that will attempt to match patients who have advanced cancers with the best available therapies based not on the location or histologic subtypes of their tumors, but on specific molecular abnormalities.

The National Cancer Institute’s Molecular Analysis for Therapy Choice (NCI-MATCH) trial will begin enrolling patients in July 2015. The study’s objective is “to understand the relative efficacy of the same therapy applied to oncogene-defined subsets across the entire cancer population as defined by site of origin or tumor histology,” said co–principal investigator Dr. Keith T. Flaherty of Harvard Medical School, Boston.

“This is the beginning, not the end, in terms of how we think about applying these therapies,” he said at a briefing that was held to announce the start of trial enrollment and a second initiative – the Targeted Agent and Profiling Utilization Registry (TAPUR) Study – by ASCO in cooperation with major pharmaceutical companies.


NCI-MATCH is a phase II trial that will be operated through the National Clinical Trials Network. Oncologists at participating centers throughout the United States can enroll patients aged 18 years and older who have solid tumors or lymphomas that have relapsed or are refractory to conventional therapy, or who have a type of cancer for which no effective, consensus-based therapy is available.

Investigators plan to screen 3,000 patients initially, with the goal of enrolling 1,000 patients distributed among several substudies that will be evaluating specific drugs against specific molecular targets.

Patients will undergo biopsy at study entry, and their tumors will be subjected to genomic analysis to detect specific, targetable molecular abnormalities.

If a patient has a specific abnormality that is being explored in a current substudy, that patient will be further evaluated to determine whether he or she meets the eligibility criteria for that trial arm. Once enrolled, patients can remain on therapy until disease progression. The therapies will include both currently marketed agents and investigational therapies contributed by drug companies. Most of the trial arms will explore monotherapy with a targeted agent, but a few may investigate combinations which have accumulated enough safety and efficacy data to suggest that they might work against a specific molecular target.

The primary endpoint will be overall response rate, with a secondary endpoint of 6-month progression-free survival (PFS).

“This holds promise to bring faster cures to millions of Americans who so desperately need them,” ASCO past president Dr. Clifford A. Hudis said at the briefing.


In cooperation with major pharmaceutical manufacturers (currently five, with more expected to sign on), ASCO has initiated a study designed to help answer the question, “I’ve got the tumor genome – now what do I do with it?”

The goal of the TAPUR trial, says ASCO Chief Medical Officer Dr. Richard Schilsky, is “to learn from the real world practice of prescribing targeted therapies to patients with advanced cancer whose tumor harbors a genomic variant known to be a drug target.”

The primary objectives are to describe the antitumor activity and toxicity profiles of targeted therapies, and to help patients get access to Food and Drug Administration–approved agents from which they may be able to benefit.

The trial will enroll patients with advanced solid tumors, B-cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas, and multiple myelomas for which there are no standard therapies. The patients must have adequate organ function and good performance status (0-2).

Patients will be matched by their personal physicians to specific therapies, if such a match exists; otherwise, they will be treated at the physician’s discretion.

The primary endpoint of the study will be overall response rates by Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors (RECIST). Secondary endpoints will be PFS, OS, time on treatment, grade 3 or greater adverse events, and serious adverse event. The investigators plan to begin patient enrollment in the fourth quarter of 2015.

Current industry partners include AstraZeneca, Bristol Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly, Genentech, and Pfizer.

The NCI-MATCH study is funded by the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Flaherty has received NIH research grants. Dr. Hudis disclosed ties to AstraZeneca, Sanofi-Aventis, Amgen, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Genentech, Eli Lilly, Novartis, Ortho Biotech, Pfizer, and Roche. Dr. Schilsky disclosed no relevant conflicts of interest.