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New approaches to testing cancer drugs needed -- ESMO press commentary
Date:9/30/2013

Lugano, Switzerland, 28th September -- Research institutes, regulators and the pharmaceutical industry are urged to cooperate to develop new approaches to testing cancer drugs, in order to bring the revolution in personalised medicine to patients across Europe, says the European Society for Medical Oncology.

It has become clear in recent years that each patient's cancer has individual characteristics that are potentially amenable to "personalised" treatments that target those characteristics. But there is still a great deal of work to be done to ensure patients benefit from these developments as quickly as possible.

"We are approaching a time when it will be possible to analyse the tumours of many patients to help us select the most appropriate treatment and to personalize treatment," said ESMO spokesperson Marina Garassino of the Division of Medical Oncology at the Italian National Institute of Cancer.

Selecting drugs for individual patients helps avoid useless treatments, minimise toxicity and reduce costs for society. In an ideal situation, oncologists would like to be able to use such methods to ensure every single patient is treated with the best possible drugs, Garassino said.

A major challenge facing researchers is that it is not always feasible to perform the kind of large clinical trials that regulators have demanded in the past to prove the value of new treatments.

"We are used to comparing different treatments using large phase III trials, where thousands of patients are randomized," Garassino explained.

"This is feasible when the disease is frequent but not when we are working with small groups of patients who have particular tumour characteristics. In those cases, we need to work closely with statisticians to develop new methodological approaches."

"Regulatory agencies must take into consideration that these kinds of studies can provide important, reliable information about these new
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Contact: ESMO Press Office
media@esmo.org
European Society for Medical Oncology
Source:Eurekalert

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