Australian researchers have developed a new method for finding participants in clinical trials of lung cancer drugs, it was announced on Wednesday. Researchers from Melbourne’s Walter and Eliza Hall Institute (WEHI) were optimistic that the new recruitment process will boost the success rate of drugs being trialled as treatments for lung squamous cell carcinoma, the second most common type of lung cancer. By mimicking the complexity of human tumours with a research tool, the scientists were able to identify a “biomarker” which could serve as an indication as to which patients would better respond to certain drugs, Xinhua news agency reported. Marie-Liesse Asselin-Labat, the lead author of the study, said patients with the biomarker were more likely to respond positively to fibroglast growth factor receptor (FGFR) drugs. “We found that high levels of the anti-cancer drug’s target, FGFR1, in a patient’s tumour ribonucleic acid (RNA) were a better predictor of their potential response to the drug than the current tests that are used,” Asselin-Labat said on Wednesday. Ben Solomon, a medical oncologist from the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, said the finding meant future clinical trials could be designed to succeed. “Fewer than 10 per cent of new cancer drugs make it past phase 1 clinical trials. In many cases this isn’t because of the drug itself, but because of a limitation in clinical trial design,” Solomon said. “Understanding which patients are most likely to respond to certain drugs in clinical trials is crucial both for patients to receive the best treatment, and for new drugs to make it to the clinic.” “Hopefully these data will help to improve trial outcomes by recruiting patients who otherwise might not have been matched to the right trial for them,” Solomon said.
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