Cancer Research & Medical Research Council launch new consortium.

Cancer Research UK and the Medical Research Council (MRC) have jointly launched a Stratified Medicine Consortium to help personalise bowel cancer treatment by matching patients to the most effective therapies.

The £5M S-CORT* Consortium will use information gleaned from samples collected from over 2,000 patients from large clinical trials to match treatments to patients. to precisely match the right treatment to the right patient. The hope is that this work will significantly improve the treatment path for newly diagnosed patients. Specifically, whether or not they should receive oxaliplating, what type of radiotherapy would be most effective, and even how much of the bowl should be removed in surgery. Over 41,500 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer each year in the UK.

Professor Tim Maughan, Cancer Research UK Clinician at the University of Oxford and head of the S-CORT Consortium, said: “Bowel cancer survival has more than doubled in the last 40 years. But there’s still a lot more work to do. Recognising this challenge, we have brought together key partners from the UK and Europe in this consortium.  Based on strong evidence from our previous work and generating new data from over 2000 individuals, we’ll identify ways to tailor treatment and ensure patients receive the drugs and other therapies that will benefit them the most, and make a significant difference to their chances of beating this common disease.”

Professor Mark Lawler, Chair of Translational Cancer Genomics, Queen’s University Belfast, said: “This precision medicine approach can maximise the effectiveness of both existing and brand new treatments while helping to minimise side effects, to improve survival and quality of life for our patients. Additionally, our health economic analysis will allow us to measure the benefit we can deliver for the NHS and the UK economy.”

Mark Flannagan, chief executive of Beating Bowel Cancer, a partner in the consortium, said: “We’re delighted to be involved in this innovative research programme, as it provides a route to improved care for our patients.”

Peter Johnson,  Cancer Research UK’s chief clinician, said: “We’ve a huge amount of new information coming through about the molecular changes that take place in bowel cancers, and we now need to understand how to match patients to the most effective treatments. 

“Programmes like S-CORT will take the information we get from our clinical trials to a new level. We’ve made great strides in developing new treatments for bowel cancer, and around six in 10 patients now survive for more than 10 years, but we know there is more we can do.

“This programme will help establish a blueprint for new studies looking to tailor treatment for patients with other cancer types. It builds on existing work such as a pioneering clinical trial for patients with advanced lung cancer which launched last year.”