The Glasgow Precision Oncology Laboratory (GPOL) at the University of Glasgow has developed a series of tests called an assay for all types of cancer. The cancer test are designed specifically to allow doctors to give personalised treatments to patients based on their tumour type and genetic makeup.
The Glasgow Cancer Test has the potential to change how patients are treated for cancer.
What is the Glasgow Cancer Test?
Researchers from the University have found that approximately 95% of the genomic or biological changes that lead to cancer are already known about. These changes differ from person to person, leading to some treatments being more effective for some people than others. They also change according to the type of tumour and where it is. Therefore, testing for the genomic changes in each individual patient with cancer allows doctors to give the most effective possible treatments.
The Test takes a sample of DNA from a tumour and using this can investigate which treatments would be most effective for the tumour and try to find out why the cancer developed in the first place. This is called precision medicine or genomic medicine.
What does this mean for patients with pancreatic cancer?
Researchers are discovering more and more of the biological changes that take place when a patient has pancreatic cancer. There are many genomic changes that lead to the development of the disease and therefore each patient with pancreatic cancer has a slightly different disease.
The researchers believe that testing all of the possible changes that have led to pancreatic cancer could provide many different personalised treatments for the disease.
It is clear that if patients can receive personalised treatments for their disease then it is likely to benefit them and lead to improvements in the length of life as well as the quality of life.
When can the tests be used?
The tests have been developed over the last five years and are now entering a stage where they can be routinely used. Currently, they will be made available to patients taking part in clinical trials to make sure that they are receiving the treatments tailored to them. NHS labs in England and Scotland, as well as a company called Agilent Technologies, are currently evaluating the test and should report back towards the end of 2020.
The researchers aim to have the test available to all patients diagnosed with cancer in the NHS.
The test is designed to be cost effective and require no specialist preparation.
The researchers are confident that the test gathers the known information about the biological changes in the body that cause cancer. Furthermore, as the test is used around the world, it will allow the researchers to identify new changes associated with different cancer types that can then be targets for treatment.
The Glasgow Cancer Test has the potential to change how patients are treated for cancer. Pancreatic Cancer Action will be following the progress of the test and keeping in touch with the research team to hear how the test could benefit patients further.