In a novel feat, British researchers will test around 14 lung cancer drugs from AstraZeneca and Pfizer simultaneously within one trial.
The idea is to find out medicines that can fight advanced lung cancer according to the genes of the patient. The $42-million project is a partnership between Cancer Research UK and pharmaceutical companies AstraZeneca and Pfizer and the NHS which will allow to use 14 medications which target very specific and often rare genetic mutations.
Dr Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK's chief executive, says, "This is a very important step forward in the fight against cancer. This partnership is exciting because we're trying to achieve something that none of us could manage alone - targeting treatments towards the patients who we know are the most likely to benefit."
On the basis of the genetics of each lung tumour, researchers will select a small group of patients who are more likely to gain from a certain drug.
Medicines that work in the small groups of patients will be taken up for larger trials involving more patients with the same kind of genetic changes.
For any particular cancer, single gene mutation can be extremely rare, probably affecting as few as 1 or 2 per cent of patients, thus, studying one drug at a time is extremely difficult.