Precision medicine on the front line for lung cancer patients

Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) represents the vast majority of lung cancer cases, and continues to throw challenges in the path of researchers seeking to find effective treatments for the condition.

A novel consortium – Molecularly Informed Lung Cancer Treatment in a Community Cancer Network (MYLUNG) – is applying a precision medicine approach to better understand NSCLC. MYLUNG is a collaboration between healthcare generalists McKesson, the US Oncology Network, and technology developers Ontada, together with a group of pharmaceutical firms and healthcare providers, with the aim of studying 12,000 patients with NSCLC in what is one of the first broad research programs for the disease.

Microscopic image of a cytology of a non-small cell lung tumor.

One of MYLUNG’s primary focuses is on developing a greater understanding of the molecular inputs to the disease, particularly the genetic mutations which might pave the way for more effective treatments.

Chief Scientific Offer of US Oncology Research, Robert Coleman, sees the opportunities clearly, “Many patients are not receiving the molecular testing they need to initiate targeted therapy early in their cancer care journey due to long timeframes, lack of coverage or another factor. This testing is critical to determine the patient’s cancer at a molecular level, so oncologists can create a more targeted and precise treatment plan.” With the future in mind, Dr Coleman continued, “In order to fulfil the promise of precision medicine for NSCLC patients, we need a fuller understanding of the barriers, challenges, risks and opportunities around molecularly guided therapies. MYLUNG will draw insights from these datasets that can lead to better therapy for patients in a timelier manner.”

The MYLUNG program will take the form over 3 specific protocols over a 5-year period. Beginning with analysis of electronic health records, the team expect to develop a baseline background of molecular tests and barriers to precision medicine. With the second protocol, MYLUNG will enrol around 1,000 patients to monitor their treatment with a focus on the diagnostic biomarkers and how they are used in decision-making. The third, and final protocol, will see the development of algorithms to leverage the previous stages into clinical trials and will use the data to explore new processes to improve access to testing and treatments.