July 24 (UPI) -- Researchers at the National Cancer Institute and the Children's Oncology Group are enrolling pediatric cancer patients in a precision medicine clinical trial, the National Institutes of Health announced on Monday.
The NCI-COG Pediatric Molecular Analysis for Therapy Choice, or Pediatric MATCH, is a national clinical trial on the efficacy of targeted therapies in pediatric patients with solid cancerous tumors that have specific genetic mutations, which have progressed during or after standard treatment.
"Pediatric MATCH is a very special trial," Dr. Douglas R. Lowy, acting director of the NCI, said in a press release. "There aren't any other cancer trials of this scale exploring targeted treatments for children whose cancers have specific genetic abnormalities. Precision medicine trials like Pediatric MATCH have the potential to accelerate progress in identifying more effective treatments for children with cancer."
Pediatric MATCH is a Phase 2 clinical trial incorporating more than eight different study medications, each targeting a specific set of genetic mutations to match patients with therapies targeted to the molecular abnormalities in their individual tumors.
"Pediatric MATCH is a cutting-edge trial in many ways," said Dr. Peter C. Adamson, a pediatric oncologist at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and chair of the COG. "It will bring molecular analysis, coupled to a portfolio of new targeted agents, to children and adolescents with relapsed cancer across the United States. Importantly, it will also help us learn more about relapsed cancer in pediatric patients, catalyzing research aimed at developing better treatments."
The trial will use a single sequencing test to screen for many molecular abnormalities at the same time and can look for alternations in more than 160 genes associated with cancer.
"We will also look at whether mutations found in tumors are detected in blood samples and hence were inherited," COG study co-chair Dr. Will Parsons, of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, said. "This will allow us to provide the treating physician with guidance for the patient's family regarding the need for formal genetic testing, counseling, and follow-up care."
Biopsy specimens from all patients will be sent to the COG Biopathology Center at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, for DNA and RNA processing. Sequencing analysis will be done at the MD Anderson Cancer Center and the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research.
Patients who are matched with a drug will receive treatment as long as their tumors remain stable or get smaller in size.