Researcher in laboratory

Translational Research in Clinical Trials

The overall aim of the translational research programme is to turn basic research findings into clinical applications. This can be either through the discovery and validation of therapeutic targets for investigation in drug development projects, or the identification and use of biomarkers.

In clinical trials of new agents, biomarkers may be used to select patients whose tumours express the relevant therapeutic target, and in some cases, monitor the target response. More general biomarkers (i.e. expression signatures from a range of genes) can be used to identify subgroups of patients likely to respond to a particular treatment.

Ultimately, we want to utilise biomarkers to match and optimise the appropriate therapy to an individual’s disease pathology and to measure its effectiveness.

Current examples of biomarker studies include:

  • p53 pathway status in the ovarian cancer ICON 3 study of response to single agent platinum and paclitaxel
  • Folate metabolic pathway genes and their products as determinants of response to antifolate therapy in breast and ovarian cancer, mesothelioma and osteosarcoma (Eli Lilly sponsored)
  • Circulating blood plasma free RNA as a potential marker of tumour burden and treatment response (GSK sponsored)