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12 September 2013

Research biopsies in the context of early phase oncology studies: clinical and ethical considerations

The Personalized Medicine approach in oncology is a direct result of an improved understanding of complex tumor biology and advances in diagnostic technologies. In recent years, there has been an increased demand for archival and fresh tumor analysis in early clinical trials to foster proof-of-concept biomarker development, to understand resistance mechanisms, and ultimately to assess biological response.

Although phase I studies are aimed at defining drug safety, pharmacokinetics, and to recommend a phase II dose for further testing, there is now increasing evidence of mandatory tumor biopsies even at the earliest dose-finding stages of drug development. The increasing demand for fresh tumor biopsies adds to the complexity of novel phase I studies and results in different challenges, ranging from logistical support to ethical concerns. This paper investigates key issues, including patients’ perceptions of research biopsies, the need for accurate informed consent, and alternative strategies that may guide the drug development process.

Read the full publication from SCRI UK doctors: Oncology Reviews 2013; volume 7:e5

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Sarah Cannon Research UK NHS Ventures
University College London Hospitals