EORTC putting together SPECTAlung for patients with lung cancer

The EORTC has announced that it will build a Screening Program for Efficient Clinical Trial Access for patients with lung cancer. This program, SPECTAlung, will prospectively collect biological materials from patients who have been diagnosed with lung cancer, starting with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and enable efficient clinical trial access for these patients.

SPECTAlung will join SPECTAcolor for colorectal cancer, SPECTAbrain for neurological cancers, SPECTAmel for melanoma, and SPECTAprostate for prostate cancer. These EORTC platforms are first in class innovative partnership models which mutualize efforts across stakeholders to facilitate clinical trial access based on systematic, coordinated and quality controlled tumor tissue collection and analysis platforms dedicated to patients with cancer. Additional platforms are in development.

In Europe, there were an estimated 410,000 new cases of lung Cancer in 2012, and with 353,000 mortalities, it was the most common cause of cancer related death. NSCLC accounts for 85% of all lung cancers. Chemotherapy, with poor overall response rate (30%) and overall survival (10 months), was the standard treatment for patients with NSCLC. However, identification of molecular mutations has led to new targeted treatments, e.g. crizotininib and gefitinib, with improved efficacy and lower toxicity.

Still, despite remarkable results achieved by new targeted compounds, the prognosis for patients remains poor, because resistance to these treatments does develop. Certainly, clinical research for patients with NSCLC could benefit from novel clinical trial methodology, one that could accommodate the mutational aspect of the disease.

SPECTAlung will break from the traditional model of cancer clinical research and prospectively identify subsets of patients with a specific molecular profile rather than first enrolling patients in clinical trials and thereafter attempting to define responding subgroups. Screened patients will be treated in trials designed with drugs targeting their specific molecular profile.

SPECTAlung will be driven by EORTC in partnership with the European Thoracic Oncology Platform (ETOP).

John Bean, PhD
EORTC, Medical Science Writer

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