Adaptive therapy treatment for ovarian cancer patients
Barts Charity has awarded nearly £500,000 to investigate adaptive therapy, a personalised approach to ovarian cancer treatment 
Ovarian cancer diagnosis

Barts Charity has awarded Dr Michelle Lockley of Barts Cancer Institute, Queen Mary University of London, nearly £500,000 to investigate adaptive therapy, a new personalised treatment approach for ovarian cancer. 

On average, 7,500 women in the UK are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year, one of the most common types of cancer in women. The earlier ovarian cancer is diagnosed and treated, the better the chance of a cure. But often it’s not recognised until it’s already spread and a cure is not possible. While ovarian cancer survival is improving, far too many women still lose their lives within 10 years of diagnosis.  

Adaptive therapy – a new treatment approach

The treatment approach, called adaptive therapy for ovarian cancer will benefit 3,000 patients annually over the next three years. 

“This strategy could transform cancer care: patients would receive fewer drugs, less often, and live longer with fewer treatment-related side effects,” says Dr Lockley. “The research aims to address the unmet need of therapy resistance. To maximise future public health gains, it is crucial that we learn from the patients that participate in this study.” 

Adaptive therapy (AT) is a novel, personalised treatment strategy in which drug doses are tailored for individual patients to prevent drug resistance. Drug-resistant cancer cells usually grow more slowly than their drug-sensitive counterparts and this clinical trial plans to exploit this Achilles’ heel by prescribing periods without drugs. 

This strategy could transform cancer care: patients would receive fewer drugs, less often, and live longer with fewer treatment-related side effects

Dr Michelle Lockley

Honorary Consultant Oncologist at Barts Cancer Institute
Clinical trial for UK cancer patients

This is the first adaptive therapy clinical trial for UK cancer patients and the first global experience testing adaptive therapy in high grade serous ovarian cancer (HGSOC), which is among the most fatal forms of all cancers.  

This unique clinical trial approach may lead to more effective personalised treatments for patients with ovarian cancer, with the hope of extending patient survival. Dr Lockley says, “The unifying evolutionary principles we reveal could completely redefine the administration of diverse therapies in multiple cancer types.” 

Clinical experience shows that when cancers relapse, repeated treatment with the same therapy is less effective. Adaptive therapy could significantly benefit patients by prolonging drug-sensitivity and extending tumour control, while at the same time, reducing chemotherapy dose and drug-induced toxicity.  

The discoveries here will be generalisable and have the potential to radically redefine anti-cancer therapy and improve survival of patients receiving treatment for multiple cancer types. 

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