Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust Cancer Research nurse, Haiyan Huang, has been successful in recruiting the first UK patient to the HeredERA clinical trial, which aims to find better ways to give treatment to breast cancer patients.
The trial, which is sponsored by F.Hoffmann La Roche Ltd, looks at a small subset of breast cancer patients (Her2- Positive, Estrogen Receptor Positive), and is an opportunity to look at a new drug which can be taken orally, replacing the need for a deep, intramuscular injection every four weeks, which isn’t pleasant or comfortable.
During the trial, breast cancers can be viewed under a microscope and tested for a sensitivity to Estrogen, and another marker, a human epidermal growth factor receptor, Her2. The study aims to develop a hormone-based treatment, which degrades the Estrogen receptor. If that receptor is mutating, it may be a more effective treatment, with the added bonus that there is no need for an injection.
Oncology Consultant, Dr Martin Hogg, and his team at the Rosemere Cancer Centre at Royal Preston Hospital, managed to enrol the first UK patient after six months of screening since the trials began, with Haiyan’s hard work paying off.
Martin said: “With hospitals under so much pressure, this is great testament to Nolly (Haiyan) and the team. I was particularly happy when she rang me and said she had the first patient in the UK who would be suitable for the trial, which for this particular clinical trial is quite some achievement.
“It’s an important study, and it’s brilliant that the team have found the first patient in the UK. It tells me what a strong team I have to work with.”
Globally, 178 sites have been activated to conduct the trial in 20 countries as of 31 August 2023, with 307 patients enrolled, and 151 randomised.
Haiyan added: “I’ve been consistently screening since day one. This trial has been open for six months, so it was good to find a patient.
“We then have a short timeline - from the day you find the patient, we have two weeks to get everything done, including a CT scan, so it’s a quick turnaround, and to book the chemotherapy…that is the most challenging thing.”
Martin expanded: “Once we identify a patient, it’s then about approaching them and talking to them. The trial might directly benefit them, but it can also help the next generation of breast cancer patients.”
The screening of potential patients is a painstaking process, as Martin explained: “As one of the consultants involved in the study, we wouldn’t have picked this patient up without the impact of the team. Increasingly in breast cancer trials we look for people’s cancers which have a specific identity or mutation and are a lot less common, so this means that you have to do a lot of screening, and that doesn’t work without the team.”
HeredERA is open to recruitment until 2 June 2025 and you can contact the cancerresearchteam@Lthtr.nhs.uk for more information.