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Precision medicine for prostate cancer: new clinical trial uses liquid biopsies for genomic testing

A new B.C.-led national clinical trial is considered a major advancement in precision medicine for prostate cancer, and is the first of its kind in the world.
Dr. Alexander Wyatt, David Hamilton, Sarah Roth and Dr. Kim Chi
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L-r: Dr. Alexander Wyatt (senior research scientist, Vancouver Prostate Centre and Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute), David Hamilton (patient), Sarah Roth (BC Cancer Foundation president & CEO), and Dr. Kim Chi (medical oncologist, BC Cancer).

The IND.234 clinical trial, conducted in partnership with the Canadian Cancer Trials Group (CCTG), uses liquid biopsy technology to screen for genomic markers in prostate cancer patients. 

After the liquid biopsy analysis, oncologists assign patients with specific DNA markers to one of five new therapies targeted at their unique form of prostate cancer. Researchers want to see if the markers identified in the screening process can help predict which patients will be helped the most by the targeted treatments.

“There is an urgent need to find more effective therapies for men with advanced prostate cancer and an individual’s cancer is unique, so a one-size-fits-all solution may not be the best,” says Dr. Kim Chi, BC Cancer medical oncologist and trial lead. 

“We want to identify men whose cancers will have the best chance to respond to the experimental new drug therapies we are testing in this trial.”

Jim Impey, one of the first trial participants from the Ottawa Hospital, shares his experience. 

“When I was first diagnosed with prostate cancer, I understood that this type of cancer was not good. When my oncologist offered me the chance to receive a new potential treatment, I was willing to try anything that might make a difference. They sent my blood to be tested in B.C. and then I was enrolled, it was simple — now I take my pills and track any side effects.”

Tumour samples taken at diagnosis can be tested for DNA markers, but in order to provide current genomic information patients need an additional invasive biopsy. Using a liquid biopsy to provide the information could remove the need for surgery.

“BC Cancer Foundation’s passionate donors have enabled a world-first precision medicine trial using liquid biopsies to come to fruition, which will significantly improve patient outcomes,” says Sarah Roth, president and CEO, BC Cancer Foundation. 

“The brilliant minds at BC Cancer continue to move the dial in research and care, benefiting families across Canada facing cancer today.”

BC Cancer; Clinical trials; prostate cancer; cancer; cancer treatment; genomics; prostate; Research; trials; treatment
 
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