Glioblastoma is the most aggressive form of brain tumour and the most common type to affect young people. The trial at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge uses whole genome sequencing to determine cancer-driving mutations and offers each patient the most effective treatment for them.
'This incredibly exciting new programme enables us to analyse the mutations driving a patient's tumour in real-time,' said Richard Mair, consultant neurosurgeon at Cambridge University Hospital and lead of this programme. 'We hope to use this information to identify whether any new, targeted treatments can be offered to these patients.'
Like with many cancers, different genetic mutations can contribute to the development of glioblastoma. Some of these will be the result of mutations during a patient's life and some may be inherited.
During the trial, patients undergoing surgery for glioblastoma at Addenbrooke's will have the opportunity to provide a tumour biopsy and a blood sample. DNA from the blood sample is sequenced to act as a baseline genetic code for the tumour genome to be compared against. The results are discussed by the genomics advisory board (made up of clinicians, researchers, and data analysts), to determine the best course of treatment for the individual patient. The whole process takes around ten days.
This study aims to enrol 225 adult patients with glioblastoma over three years, and each will receive personalised treatment care during the precision medicine study. The researchers hope that having a better understanding of the root cause of tumour formation will inform more successful treatment strategies.
'The idea here is: can we ensure that every patient gets the best possible personalised treatment for them?' explained Professor Richard Gilbertson, director of the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Centre.
The goal of this trial, which has been established by the Minderoo Foundation Precision Brain Tumour Programme (MPBTP), is to offer patients with cancer diagnosis precision medicine and demonstrate the benefits of this strategy for future NHS brain cancer patients.
MPBTP will also provide scientists with access to genomic datasets on these patients' tumours to identify potential therapeutic targets, develop further treatments, and offer innovative clinical trials.