Genetic testing offers more promising new treatments

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The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity is the largest charitable funder of research at The Royal Marsden. Experts from The Royal Marsden presented research that suggested vital benefits to using next generation sequencing in patients with Non-Hodgkin lymphoma at The American Society of Haematology (ASH) virtual conference.

Patients with specific types of blood cancer (Non-Hodgkin lymphoma) could receive an improved and more accurate diagnosis through new genetic testing, allowing them access to promising new treatments according to research led by The Royal Marsden.

Results from this four-year multi-centre trial, ENABLE-NGS, were presented by Dr Matthew Cross, Clinical Research Fellow at The Royal Marsden, whose role is funded by the Charity.

Dr Matthew Cross said: “Previously, tests for Non-Hodgkin lymphoma have only been able to look at one gene at a time to explore mutations but by using next generation sequencing technology, researchers in this trial analysed up to 70 different genes at the same time to identify multiple mutations relevant to the patient’s diagnosis. Identifying these genetic changes can be key to assigning a specific category in certain Non-Hodgkin Lymphomas which then leads to a range of new targeted treatments becoming accessible for the patient.”

Over 100 patients were enrolled onto the ENABLE-NGS trial, across 14 different UK centres, and blood samples were obtained for analysis through the next generation sequencing process at The Royal Marsden. Using innovative testing equipment in state-of-the-art laboratories, researchers were able to extract and fragment tumour DNA from blood samples to identify gene mutations in order to give a more accurate diagnosis and tailor treatment accordingly. Technology used in the next generation sequencing by the molecular diagnostics team included the latest DNA sequencing machine, the NovaSeq 6000, funded thanks to a generous donation of £1 million from the Denise Coates Foundation to The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity.


Les’s Story

Patient Les Hereward, 71, said:

“I was diagnosed with lymphoma in 2016 but after a barrage of tests, it still wasn’t clear what type of lymphoma I had, which was very frustrating as it meant my treatment options were very limited. I was delighted to be asked to join this trial at The Royal Marsden last year as I hoped to get some clarity on my condition, which I have since received. Knowing I have follicular lymphoma has made a huge difference to my life in so many ways - I am now on a targeted treatment with a much better outlook and feel better than ever before.”

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