Inivata, a provider of liquid biopsy and the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) have announced a collaboration, which will see the former’s InVisionFirst-Lung liquid biopsy test being used in a Phase II trial to monitor ALK positive non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients commencing treatment with third-generation ALK inhibitor therapy lorlatinib.

ALK positive NSCLC cancer patients respond well to ALK inhibition therapies such as lorlatinib. However, this has been restricted in time by the development of drug resistance.

The trial is intended to understand resistance mechanisms and to examine the correlation between ALK resistance mutational profile and response to ALK inhibitor therapy.

EORTC director-general Dr Denis Lacombe said: “Understanding the patterns of resistance and relapse is one of the most burning challenges in oncology. EORTC’s scientific strategy, being primarily patient-centred, has developed over the years a specific focus on programs which address the entire course of the disease, taking forward the challenges that patients face a recurrence.

“We are, therefore, particularly excited with this partnership which brings together the capabilities of our organisation and new technologies to address the applicability of liquid biopsy for longitudinal studies on this critical question.

“A better understanding of resistance will not only provide insight on how to design the next generation of treatment but could also potentially suggest combination treatment to prevent the development of resistance.”

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Initially, Inivata’s InVisionFirst-Lung ctDNA test will be used to offer real-time data for a pre-trial selection of patients through the diagnosis of molecular resistance.

Furthermore, the liquid biopsy test will also be used to offer data on ALK mutational profile concerning an individual patient’s response to lorlatinib treatment at the point of disease progression and during the trial in those patients detected with ALK mutations.

The trial will see the participation of 84 patients across 30 EORTC locations in Belgium, France, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Spain and the United Kingdom.

EORTC, the trial sponsor, is an independent, non-profit research organisation in cancer. The study is funded by Pfizer, which has the marketing authorisation of lorlatinib.