A major Cancer Research UK clinical trial aiming to find effective new treatments for patients with rare forms of the disease has launched in Scotland.

The DETERMINE (Determining Extended Therapeutic indications for Existing drugs in Rare Molecularly-defined Indications using a National Evaluation platform) trial will match people who have rare cancers, or cancers with rare genetic faults, with existing medications already being used to treat other cancers.

If the results from the trial, which is led by the University of Manchester and managed by Cancer Research UK’s Centre for Drug Development, are positive then those treatments could be quickly approved to treat other patients with the same rare cancer across the UK.

Eligible patients in Scotland are now being sought to take part in the trial which is the UK’s first national precision medicine trial for rare cancers.

Scots will be amongst the first to be offered a place on the UK-wide trial.

Principal Investigator Dr Patricia Roxburgh, of the Cancer Research UK Scotland Centre and University of Glasgow, said: “We are very excited in Scotland to be amongst the first in the UK to offer these targeted drugs to patients with rare cancer as part of the DETERMINE clinical trial.

“We are hopeful that, if successful, patients across the UK will be able to access treatments that have already been approved for other types of cancer.

“We are seeking patients with rare cancers or cancers with very specific genetic faults. If you aren’t sure, please ask your treating clinician whether you may be eligible to take part in this trial.”

Matching treatment to a specific patient is known as precision medicine, a growing area of cancer medicine. Precision medicine is particularly used in rare cancers or cancers with specific genetic faults which cause it to develop.

Clinical trials normally treat around 30-50 patients however, it is hoped around 500-650 people across the UK will be able to benefit from this five-year long trial which will be open to both adults and children.

Currently eight drugs from pharmaceutical companies Roche and Novartis have been committed to the trial with more to be added as the trial progresses.

DETERMINE will run trials in both Edinburgh and Glasgow for adults, and for children in Glasgow.

Sarah Mellor, Cancer Research UK lead of the DETERMINE project, said: “Precision medicine is an exciting focus for cancer research, and we hope this trial – the UK’s first national precision medicine trial for rare cancers – will offer hundreds of patients across the UK the opportunity to access new treatments.

“We are delighted Scottish patients will be amongst the first to have this opportunity which we hope will lead to new, effective therapeutic options for patients with rare cancers.”

Cancer treatments and medications are approved for use in the NHS to treat specific cancers in specific circumstances. If treatments are successful in patients taking part in the trial, then those medications could be quickly approved by the appropriate body for use in other types of cancer.

DETERMINE is led by the University of Manchester and is sponsored and managed by Cancer Research UK’s Centre for Drug Development.  It is run in collaboration with the University of Birmingham, the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust and the Christie NHS Foundation Trust.