Clinical trial offers lifeline for patients with aggressive brain tumours

A cutting-edge treatment for people with aggressive brain tumours is being made available in Wales for the first time (WalesOnline, 2017).

A new trial, undertaken at Velindre Cancer Centre in Cardiff, will look at the effects of a drug called Lynparza, also known as olaparib, combined with radiotherapy for patients with aggressive brain tumours.

Glioblastoma is one of the most common types of brain tumours in adults and is usually treated with surgery and radiotherapy. Radiotherapy damages DNA in cells, which helps to prevent the replication and growth of cancers. Experts say Lynparza also prevents repair of damage to DNA and therefore works “in concert” with radiotherapy. The effectiveness of the combination will be tested on a small number of cancer patients in this early phase trial, known as PARADIGM-2.

This is the first ever early phase cancer trial combining drug and radiotherapy to be opened in Wales.

Dr Robert Jones, who leads the early phase unit at Velindre Cancer Centre, said “We are thrilled to be delivering this trial, working in close collaboration with the University of Glasgow, where the trial is being led from. The work we do here is vital in developing new and better treatments for cancer patients in Wales and beyond and it is important that we can offer these trials in a more local setting for patients who otherwise may have to travel to Oxford or London. We are excited to be able to offer a new type of trial to patients and hope that we continue to build on our expanding portfolio of early phase trials.”

Work to deliver the trial has been facilitated by the Wales Cancer Research Centre and is supported by the Moondance Foundation, which has awarded £171,640 to support Velindre to lead and deliver these complex trials to patients in Wales. The funds will be used to develop skills, build support, and add medical capacity to capitalise on existing skills and resources.

Dr Paul Shaw is a clinical oncologist at Velindre Cancer Centre and the lead on the radiotherapy for the project. He said “The Velindre team is excited that the focused and rational combination of new anti-cancer drugs with radiation will build upon the technical advances already made in radiation delivery, to maximise treatment effects and outcomes for our patients. PARADIGM-2 represents just the first trial, with others to follow, to ensure as many patients as possible can benefit from this approach.”

The Wales Cancer Research Centre says there will be a “significant rise” in the number of drug radiation studies available to cancer patients over the next five years. The increase in therapies will offer cancer patients across Wales a chance to access new treatments and improve patient outcomes.

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