Clinical Trials of Precision Medicine through Molecular Profiling: Focus on Breast Cancer.

High-throughput technologies of molecular profiling in cancer, such as gene-expression profiling and next-generation sequencing, are expanding our knowledge of the molecular landscapes of several cancer types. This increasing knowledge coupled with the development of several molecularly targeted agents hold the promise for personalized cancer medicine to be fully realized. Moreover, an expanding armamentarium of targeted agents has been approved for the treatment of specific molecular cancer subgroups in different diagnoses. According to this paradigm, treatment selection should be dictated by the specific molecular aberrations found in each patient’s tumor. The classical clinical trials paradigm of patients’ eligibility being based on clinicopathologic parameters is being abandoned, with current clinical trials enrolling patients on the basis of specific molecular aberrations. New, innovative trial designs have been generated to better tackle the multiple challenges induced by the increasing molecular fragmentation of cancer, namely: (1) longitudinal cohort studies with or without downstream trials, (2) studies assessing the clinical utility of molecular profiling, (3) master or umbrella trials, (4) basket trials, (5) N-of-1 trials, and (6) adaptive design trials. This article provides an overview of the challenges for clinical trials in the era of molecular profiling of cancer. Subsequently, innovative trial designs with respective examples and their potential to expedite efficient clinical development of targeted anticancer agents is discussed.

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