FOrMAT genetic sequencing trial

Patient and nurse

  • Feasibility of a molecular characterisation approach to treatment (FOrMAT) clinical trial to assess use of genetic sequencing to identify patients suitable for targeted therapies
  • Clinical trial started October 2013

At The Royal Marsden, our long-term goal is to provide every one of our cancer patients with personalised treatment that guarantees their cancer is successfully treated or that they can live comfortably with it.

We want to develop more effective and kinder therapies that target each individual’s type of cancer, so they can enjoy a future beyond cancer. Clinical trials like this will help us achieve this goal.

Genetic sequencing is a technique that allows us to look for multiple abnormalities in cancer cells and identify those that we could target with a drug. The Royal Marsden believes this personalisation of treatment could be key to giving patients rapid access to effective treatments that improve survival and quality of life.

Previously, there have been a number of challenges that have prevented us from offering genetic tests to every patient. These include obtaining results in a meaningful timeframe for patients and not delaying treatment. However, recent technological advances are opening the door to tumours being sequenced quickly and to the high standards required for care.

As a result, The Royal Marsden has set up the groundbreaking FOrMAT study to assess the feasibility of using genetic sequencing to identify patients suitable for targeted drugs. In addition, this trial aims to establish the logistical and technical infrastructure that will enable us to routinely and rapidly identify patients in this way.

Currently, we are recruiting up to 200 patients with advanced gastrointestinal cancer – including stomach, pancreatic, bowel and oesophageal cancer – to take part in the first phase of the FOrMAT study. The results this work produces will then provide the basis for further research, including the development of clinical trials involving targeted drugs.

Help us conduct more cancer research

We are the leading centre for cancer clinical trials in the country, running over 450 trials each year. But it’s not enough. We need investment to be able to run many more clinical trials to achieve the next breakthroughs in cancer treatment.

It’s only by running more clinical trials that we’ll achieve more breakthroughs that will lead to more lives saved.

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