Little Boy with Leukemia
A little boy with cancer and leukemia is sick and undergoing chemotherapy and radiation at the hospital.

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the Children’s Oncology Group (COG) have opened enrollment for a nationwide precision medicine trial for childhood cancers targeting solid tumors with specific genetic mutations. Dubbed Pediatric MATCH (Pediatric Molecular Analysis for Therapy Choice), the Phase 2 trial will comprise different drugs targeting specific sets of mutations with the goal of more precisely matching patients with effective therapies.

Pediatric MATCH will simultaneously conduct research in six separate sub-studies, or arms, and will eventually expand to eight or more arms. The trials will accept children and young adults from the ages of 1 to 21with solid tumors targeting cancers such as non-Hodgkins lymphoma, brain tumors, and others. To be eligible for the trial, patients must have recent standard treatment that is no longer effective, or have a recurrent form of the disease.

“Pediatric MATCH is a very special trial,” said Douglas R. Lowy, M.D., NCI acting director in a press release. “There aren’t any other cancer trials of this scale exploring targeted treatments for children whose cancers have specific genetic abnormalities. Precision medicine trials like Pediatric MATCH have the potential to accelerate progress in identifying more effective treatments for children with cancer.”

According to information on the NCI website, the trial will take place at roughly 200 locations across the country that are part of COG. Selection for the trial will first involve solid tumor DNA and RNA sequencing to determine whether the genetic profile suggests a match with one of the drugs involved in the study.

All tumors sampled will be those which have progressed following initial treatment and will be screened against a 160-gene panel, which was developed by the Molecular Characterization Laboratory at Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research (FNLCR) in Frederick, MD. It is same panel currently used for the adult NCI-MATCH program launched in late 2015 under the same trial model.

Patients whose cancer mutations are targeted by one of the drugs in the trial will have the option to enroll in trial. Only about 10 percent of patients are expected to have a matching mutations that will make them eligible to enroll in Pediatric MATCH. The drugs used in the trial are all experimental for use in children and are contributed by the drug companies who have developed them.

“Pediatric MATCH is a cutting-edge trial in many ways,” said COG chair Peter C. Adamson, M.D., of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “It will bring molecular analysis, coupled to a portfolio of new targeted agents, to children and adolescents with relapsed cancer across the United States. Importantly, it will also help us learn more about relapsed cancer in pediatric patients, catalyzing research aimed at developing better treatments.”

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