Moffitt Patent To Speed Clinical Drug Trials, Tampa

Cancer patients who rely on new drugs to address their illness may get faster relief, thanks to a new computerized matching system.

The H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center has received a patent for a computerized system that matches the right patient for the right treatment trial using patient-donated tissue or tumor samples. These samples are entered into a database, along with patient symptoms, then analyzed at the molecular level to determine which trial drug will be most effective in addressing the disease quickly. The system is designed to accelerate clinical trials and shorten the time it takes to get new drugs into the market.

Dr. Dan Sullivan, associate center director and executive VP of clinical investigations at Moffitt, says different drugs work in different ways, some addressing gene structure and others mutations. 

"There are levels of gene expression," explains Sullivan. "You’re looking at all sorts of genes. And we can find mutations in tumors. Some drugs work with specific mutations. Others respond to different genes. For example in breast cancers, most of the drugs are addressing different genes. But, in say melanoma, some drugs seem to work better addressing specific mutations."

Getting a drug on the market is a complicated process that takes an average of 15 years to complete. It is hoped that this system will shorten this time by honing in on the right molecular structures. 

Sullivan says the formal cancer care protocol has registered 85,000 patients across 17 consortium sites in 10 states. All will be using the same database to match patients to drugs.

Writer: Missy Kavanaugh
Source: Dr. Dan Sullivan, Moffitt Cancer Center

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