New cancer therapy could benefit hundreds who have no other treatments

File photo of a consultant analyzing a mammogram (Rui Vieira/PA).

A new therapy that works across a range of cancers has been approved for use on the NHS via the Cancer Drugs Fund.

Rozlytrek (also known as entrectinib) targets solid tumours that have a certain genetic mutation (called a NTRK gene fusion), regardless of where the cancer originated in the body.

This means the drug is suitable for a range of cancers, including those that have spread around the body, and is particularly beneficial for patients with certain rare cancers who have limited treatment options.

A clinical trial of Rozlytrek found it shrank tumours in more than half of people who had NTRK fusion-positive, locally advanced or metastatic tumours (that have spread).

The drug produced a response across 14 different tumour types.

Karen Lightning-Jones, head of personalised healthcare and strategic partnerships at Roche, which makes the drug, said: “People across England will be among the first in Europe to benefit from a new generation of medicine that targets tumours based on their genetic make-up, rather than where they are in the body.

“Our commitment is to ensure that people in the UK live longer and healthier lives, and today’s news shows how we are advancing science to achieve this.”

Rozlytrek is suitable for adults and children aged 12 and over.

Publishing its draft decision, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice)  described Rozlytrek as a “revolutionary treatment for a range of cancers”.

It said it will be available via the Cancer Drugs Fund for people with no  satisfactory treatment options.

Meindert Boysen, deputy chief executive and director of the centre for health technology evaluation at Nice, said: “Today’s decision is another positive step forward for cancer care driven by genomics.

“Treatments like entrectinib (Rozlytrek) have the potential to revolutionise how we treat cancers by targeting a genetic mutation that activates tumour growth irrespective of the solid tumour’s location.

“While the evidence suggests that solid tumours with NTRK gene fusions shrink in response to entrectinib, further trial data is needed.

“We are therefore pleased that, because of the joint working between NICE, NHS England and NHS Improvement and the company, adults and children 12 years and older will be able to access entrectinib on the CDF while more data is collected to address any clinical uncertainties.”

Professor Peter Johnson, NHS clinical director for cancer, said: “As well as helping cancer patients to continue to get essential care during the coronavirus pandemic, the NHS has been working to bring new treatments onto the front line of patient care.

“This is the latest deal that the NHS has struck, working together with Roche, to help hundreds of cancer patients every year who will now be able to have this important molecular targeted treatment.”

Nice said between 600 and 700 people have solid tumours with NTRK gene fusions, with some of these eligible for the treatment.