Exciting time for cancer drug research

Cancer is still one of the world’s leading causes of death and serious illness.

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Cancer affects an astonishing number of people and, according to research, one in two people in the UK who are born after 1960 will receive a diagnosis of some form of cancer during their lifetime.

The search for a cure continues, alongside the development of better testing and more effective and less invasive treatments.

There are currently 600 new cancer drugs in development – 90% of which aim to stop the progression of the disease by targeting markers such as enzymes or proteins. These are targeted at the tumour itself, whilst producing fewer side-effects. Some of these more targeted drugs are only effective on people with certain unique characteristics, so finding sufficient numbers of people for conducting trials is becoming more of a challenge.

In addition to these targeted treatments, a number of revolutionary new treatments have emerged, including immunotherapy and the chimeric antigen Receptor T-cell (CAR-T) approach that uses the immune system’s ability to fight back in order to attack tumours and blood cancers.

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Adaptive phase 1 clinical studies are a crucial part of testing and developing new treatments and drugs. One well-respected centre that carries out this type of clinical study is Richmond Pharmacology (http://www.richmondpharmacology.com).

Trial by numbers

Smaller trials are becoming more economically and scientifically feasible, because the treatments are so powerful and the results so significant that a large trial population is no longer needed to prove effectiveness. Regulators are subsequently prepared to grant licences for larger scale trials based on early or small quantities of results data.

Data, data, data

Finding the best candidates from the patient population to recruit for trials is becoming increasingly important and patient data is playing a huge role in this. Subsequently, those centres which are able to provide the most complete data on their patients and trial participant pool are becoming more and more in-demand. Other data sources that can help to find the best participants include government registries, standard NHS electronic medical records, and synthetic data gathered from clinics, hospitals, and hospices across the country. This vast amount of synthetic data enables predictions to be made on things such as the numbers of tumours expected to occur within a certain patient population.