PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — For people whose cancer has stopped responding to standard therapy and are out of treatment options, a new trial is starting soon called the NCI-MATCH trial.

“We are learning more about the biology of tumors every day,” says Dr. David Parda of the Allegheny Health Network Cancer Institute.

The multi-center National Cancer Institute study aims to match treatment to the cancer by focusing on tumor genes, not tumor type.

“The patients are typically in an incurable situation, and these targeted agents can have significant impact,” says Dr. Parda, “There is dramatic individual variation within tumors and among different tumor types. As we sort that out, we will have more and more effective treatment and outcomes for cancer patients.”

The DNA in a patient’s cancer will be analyzed. Then, he or she will get targeted treatments against the cancer’s genetics. This could be intravenous medicines or pills.

“The cost of the drugs is being covered by the drug companies. There are initially 10 different targeted agents, and as time goes on, there may be 20 to 25,” he says. “The cost of the sequencing of the DNA of the patient’s tumor is covered under the trial. Everything else is standard of care cost that are typically covered by insurance and Medicare.”

His biggest hope for his patients?

“Prolong their survival and decrease their suffering from cancer.”

The study starts in July. The target is to enroll 1,000 patients nationwide. This includes hundreds locally. This could take two to three years. The patients will then be followed forever.

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Dr. Maria Simbra