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Fred Hutch selected to join national effort to transform treatment for pancreatic cancer patients

Precision Promise clinical trial platform creates unprecedented model of collaboration among renowned researchers, clinicians, and diagnostic and drug developers
Dr. Sunil Hingorani
Dr. Sunil Hingorani<br> <a href="">Click here for high-res photos and biographical information</a> Fred Hutch file

SEATTLE — Oct. 4, 2016 — Today the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network announced Precision Promise, the first large-scale precision medicine trial designed to transform outcomes for patients with pancreatic cancer by tailoring their treatment to their cancer’s unique molecular profile. Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center will play a major role in the effort; it has been selected to lead one of the 12 initial clinical trial sites equipped to provide treatment to pancreatic cancer patients under the new initiative. Dr. Sunil Hingorani, an oncologist and pancreas cancer researcher based at Fred Hutch, will serve as principal investigator of the site and lead collaboration with clinical care partners Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and UW Medicine.

Bringing together the field’s key stakeholders, including clinicians, researchers, and diagnostic and drug developers, Precision Promise will put the patient at the center of every treatment decision and will advance the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network’s goal to double survival by 2020.

To change the pancreatic cancer treatment paradigm, Precision Promise will investigate multiple treatment options, called sub-studies, under one clinical trial design that takes an individualized treatment approach based on the molecular profile of each patient and their tumor.

“Ultimately, we’d like to see this as a template for how you take care of every pancreatic cancer patient, at every site across the country,” Hingorani said.

The sub-studies are designed to be nimble and dynamic, so a patient can shift to another treatment option quickly without wasting precious time between clinical trials. The system will constantly evolve the treatment options by integrating current research and the most up-to-date science and knowledge available. Sub-studies can be added for newly discovered biomarkers and treatment approaches, so the field can learn which patients will most benefit from these new developments, and get new, effective treatments to patients sooner.

“This is driven by doing what is best for the individual patient, and that is the most important thing,” said Hingorani, who is a member of the Clinical Research and Public Health Science divisions at Fred Hutch. “For the first time, in a very real sense, we are going to be working with the patients to tackle this disease together.”

Pancreatic cancer is the third-leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States and is anticipated to become the second around 2020. The disease kills more people than breast cancer and has a five-year survival of just 8 percent. Nationally, only 4 percent of pancreatic cancer patients enroll in clinical trials.

“Precision Promise will dramatically accelerate the clinical trial process to bring promising therapies to patients faster,” said Julie Fleshman, president, and CEO of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. “Precision Promise is an unprecedented opportunity for patients and is vital to move the field forward. Instead of looking for the right patient for a clinical trial, we are designing the right clinical trial for each patient.”

Starting in the spring of 2017, participating patients will enroll in Precision Promise at a dozen Clinical Trial Consortium sites across the U.S., including the Fred Hutch/ SCCA/UW Medicine site. Each patient will undergo advanced molecular profiling to determine their tumor’s unique molecular features, which will inform which Precision Promise sub-study will best match their individual needs. Once on treatment, patients will be monitored closely and follow-up analyses will be conducted to provide important clues to help researchers quickly understand the effectiveness of each treatment in real time.

Currently, important genetic data and clinical trial results are fragmented across various institutions and drug developers, and some important results may never be shared publicly for researchers to learn from these findings.

Through Precision Promise, all data from the initial Clinical Trial Consortium sites will be analyzed together so scientific findings are quickly gathered and disseminated to the research community.

“On the one hand, it’s incredibly ambitious, and on the other hand it’s exactly where we need to be to treat this tumor and, frankly, to treat cancer in general,” Hingorani said.

Claire Hudson
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