An overview of the NCI precision medicine trials—NCI MATCH and MPACT
The concept of oncogene addiction was first proposed by Weinstein in 2002, postulating that tumors rely on a single dominant mutation, the oncogenic “driver”, for growth and survival. We have since come to realize that the genomic landscape of tumors is heterogeneous and more complex than previously thought. Advances in biotechnology and bioinformatics over the past decade have shifted treatment paradigms with regard to the development of molecular targeted therapeutics to identify and target the presumptive dominant lesion. As such, the decision of choosing targeted treatment strategies has become increasingly more reliant on the reporting of genomic screens of patients’ tumor tissue. Whether this change in treatment paradigm will translate into improved clinical benefit, remains to be seen. To this end, the United States National Cancer Institute (NCI) has launched precision-based medicine trials to address this question. NCI Molecular Analysis for Therapy Choice (MATCH), a genomic pre-screening study, was designed to explore the efficacy of using targeted agents to target specific molecular aberrations and whether these same therapies have comparable activity across different tumor subtypes. Molecular Profiling-based Assignment of Cancer Therapy (MPACT), is a smaller, provocative trial designed to address whether targeting an oncogenic “driver” would be more efficacious than one not. The Exceptional Responders’ initiative further aims to evaluate patients who have derived an unexpected durable benefit to these therapies, with retrospective analysis of their tumors to delineate potential predictive biomarkers which could predict response. The results of these trials will serve to help guide the field of precision medicine and personalized care.