SCOTS are among the first taking part in a pioneering initiative to demonstrate how genetic tests could be used to help match cancer patients to the most appropriate treatment.
Medical staff from Cancer Research UK’s Experimental Cancer Medicine Centres (ECMC) in Glasgow and Edinburgh, along with five of the charity’s other ECMCs, will ask up to 9,000 patients to participate in the first phase of the programme, covering six different tumour types: breast, bowel, lung, prostate, ovary and melanoma skin cancer.
Patients will be recruited through a network of more than 20 hospitals around the country and will be asked to give a small sample of their tumour to be sent to one of three leading NHS genetic testing labs where DNA will be extracted and analysed for a range of molecular faults linked to cancer.
This information will be stored alongside other relevant clinical information to allow researchers to compare the success of different treatments in relation to specific faults within cancer cells.
It’s hoped it could help scientists design better targeted treatments in the future.
Grant Lowe, 64, of the Black Isle, near Inverness, is one of the first patients taking part in the Stratified Medicine Programme.
Following tests on a mole on his back, Grant was diagnosed with malignant melanoma – a form of skin cancer – in 1997.
Since that diagnosis, Grant has been part of four different drug trials at the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre in Glasgow. He believes that these trials have prolonged his life.
He said: “I am really pleased to be part of this programme as it feels good to be doing something that will help others who find themselves in a similar situation in future.
“I’ve been treated exceptionally well by all those who have cared for me at the Beatson and I feel lucky that my diagnosis has coincided with what I believe is a golden age of cancer research.
“I really want to spread the word that there is hope and that a cancer diagnosis isn’t always the death sentence is once was.
“Being part of research trials has been a life saver and has given me a good quality of life which I enjoy with my family.”
Professor Jeff Evans, lead researcher at the Glasgow ECMC, based at Cancer Research UK’s Beatson Institute within the University of Glasgow, said: “We’re delighted to be involved in this exciting initiative, which will give Scottish people the chance to play a key part in making targeted treatments available for cancer patients across the UK. We are extremely grateful to all these patients who, by contributing to this research, are allowing us to take great strides towards beating cancer.”