UCSD Leads Trial of Multi-Drug Therapies to Improve Precision Medicine for Cancer

Multi-Drug Therapies

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) sought to test the effectiveness of multi-drug therapies for cancer patients. For their prospective study, UCSD enrolled patients with previous conditions such as treated metastatic cancers in order to gather molecular data for each patient.

The researchers found that using multi-drug therapies helped improve outcomes among patients with therapy-resistant cancers, indicating that combination drug treatments could improve precision medicine for cancer care according to a recent  report from HealthcareITAnalytics.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Typically, researchers applying precision medicine techniques to cancer treatment often involves targeting one tumor mutation with a single, molecularly matched therapy.  The UCSD team observed that patients frequently show low response rates to these therapies.  Precision Medicine clinical trials that pinpoint single tumor mutations are too hindered by low matching rates reported the team—often in the 5 to 10 percent range.

The Study

Out of 149 participating patients, the investigators administered the drug to 82 patients based on the treating oncologists’ choice and the individual patient’s preference. Only a total of 10 patients ultimately did not have a match treatment.  Out of 149 study participants, 83 received therapies based on the treating oncologists’ choice and the individual patient’s preference.  10 patients had unmatched treatment. 73 patients and their treating doctors selected a tailored combination therapy that was paired to genomic alterations. The therapies included product-targeted drugs, hormone therapies and immunotherapies.

Shumei Kato, MD, assistant professor of medicine at UCSD and lead investigator reported, “The percentage of patients matched was much higher than in most precision medicine studies because we implemented a team who instituted immediate review of genomic results, as well as navigators who helped patients and physicians access clinical trials, and off-label FDA—approved drugs.”


The study results evidence the potential for this method to improve oncology-focused precision medicine.  Razelle Kurzrock, MD director of the Center for Personalized Cancer Therapy at Moores Cancer Center noted “Having 50% of patients with heavily pretreated disease responding when highly matched speaks to the importance of personalized, precision medicine combination approaches.” Dr. Kuzrock continued “Our next step is to determine if we can increase the benefit rate further if this strategy is instituted earlier in the course of the disease.” Combination treatments have not been extensively utilized for cancer care, but there is a growing confidence they could be meaningful in the move toward optimizing cancer therapies and materially improve patient outcomes.  Precision medicine is rapidly transitioning out of the research domain and into clinical care setting.

                                                                                                                                      Lead Investigators                                                                                                                                  

Shumei Kato, MD

Razelle Kurzrock