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How new cancer drugs can skip randomised trials

Published October 07, 2013

With Zelboraf, a drug that targets specific mutations in cancer cells, eight out of 10 patients in an early-stage trial experienced significant tumour shrinkage. Roche clearly had a remarkable drug, though it worked only for people with a specific genetic makeup. Research like the Zelboraf tests, which fine-tune treatments to the genetic profile of patients, is fuelling a rethink of how new cancer drugs are tested. The promise: medicines that, in theory at least, can win approval more easily and cheaply.

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