- National Public Radio, Richard Harris
Advice from patients on a study's design makes for better science
Many studies designed to try out new drugs simply languish. They don't attract enough patients, and they aren't completed. That slows medical progress.
But here's a story of one study that has bucked that trend — in fact, it is so popular, scientists had to put the brakes on it for a while.
The study is called the NCI-MATCH trial. It upends the normal way of classifying cancers for treatment: Instead of categorizing malignancies by the organ where they first appear, this method of sorting focuses on particular mutations in the genes of cancer cells.
"Instead of thinking of a breast cancer treatment or a lung cancer treatment or colon, it looks at the different mutations that occur in the tumors," explains oncologist Robert Comis, who leads the study.
NCI-MATCH recruits people who have tried and failed the traditional cancer treatments. People like 74-year-old Nancy Nahmias.
"It all started when I was diagnosed with cancer of the liver," Nahmias says. "I was put on chemo, which I reacted very poorly to." In fact, she developed a severe reaction called sepsis, which put her in the hospital for six weeks.
Standard chemotherapy was out of the question, her doctors told her.
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