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could genetic testing mean more children with cancer could benefit from targeted drugs?

Targeted therapies have revolutionised cancer treatment – but are children with cancer missing out on precision medicine?  Could they benefit from existing targeted drugs?  And why are they not able to access them?

A new study by scientists at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, used a genetic panel test (different from whole genome sequencing) to work out which children might effectively be treated with existing adult cancer drugs.

The study is being published in the European Journal of Cancer and involved 20 hospitals around the UK sending in biopsies of children’s tumours.  The genetic test was repeated again in children who were given treatment to see what had changed.


Journalists came to the SMC to hear authors of the study talk about things like:

– how many of the children tested were found to have mutations suitable for treatment with existing adult cancer drugs?

– in those children who did go on to receive targeted treatment, how many benefitted?

– why are children not seeing faster progress in accessing new, targeted treatments?

– what are the biggest barriers to children accessing adult cancer drugs?

– what happened to the genetics of the tumours following treatment, and what does this mean for cancer treatment?


Speakers included:

Dr Sally George, Clinical Research Fellow at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and Consultant Paediatric Oncologist at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust

Dr Mike Hubank, Head of Clinical Genomics at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust and Reader in Translational Genomics at The Institute of Cancer Research, London

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