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We need more personalised cancer medicine, says diagnosis expert


11 May 2015

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NHS patients will soon benefit from the opening of a new cancer centre specialising in the use of diagnostics for targeted cancer medicines used to treat some of the UK’s most common cancers.

The Poundbury Cancer Institute has been set up by local NHS staff with a combination of private monies, commercial funding from Roche Diagnostics and charitable donations, and aims to accelerate the uptake of personalised medicines in the treatment of cancer.

NHS patients will soon benefit from the opening of a new cancer centre specialising in the use of diagnostics for targeted cancer medicines used to treat some of the UK’s most common cancers.

The Poundbury Cancer Institute has been set up by local NHS staff with a combination of private monies, commercial funding from Roche Diagnostics and charitable donations, and aims to accelerate the uptake of personalised medicines in the treatment of cancer.

They will act as a test bed for new diagnostic tests developed in partnership with the diagnostic and pharmaceutical industry. The Institute then plans to improve cancer outcomes by widening patient access to a large array of high quality cancer tests through links with key NHS cancer centres.

Dr Corrado D’Arrigo, consultant histopathologist, Dorset County Hospital said: "The HER2 ((human epidermal growth factor) test, (test for a protein that can affect the growth of some cancer cells) in breast cancer was one of the first companion diagnostics introduced in the late 90s, yet it took us over 10 years to improve the quality of her-2 testing to the point that clinicians could be sure they were giving patients the most effective treatment.

“We are facing an avalanche of new companion diagnostics and we cannot afford similar delays. We need to create a network of centres like Poundbury Cancer Institute to help the NHS deliver all these new tests," he said.

Christopher Parker, managing director of Roche Diagnostics UK & Ireland which specialises in research-focused healthcare, said: “The diagnostic tools developed at Poundbury will enable scientists to take their research from bench to bedside in a more personalised way than has previously been possible, thus increasing the benefit for patients.”

Certain targeted treatments have been available on the NHS for a number of years. However, concerns regarding the sensitivity of the diagnostics used to select patients for a particular treatment, have limited their uptake. In addition, clinicians were often unsure if patients were receiving the optimal treatment for their tumour type.

Non-specific and toxic treatments are seen to be being replaced by a new generation of innovative and more highly-targeted therapies, which can reduce undesired side effects and increase treatment effectiveness.

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