interNational Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer Tissue Bank and Database (iNATT) (iNATT)
Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer / Posted 2 years ago
Anaplastic thyroid cancer has historically proven very difficult to research due to a combination of its rarity and the associated short survival period for those affected. In 2009, 2340 patients in the UK were diagnosed with thyroid cancer with 70-90 expected to be the anaplastic subtype 1,2. For these patients average life expectancy is in the range of 2-6 months with only a very small number surviving for more than one year. It is a highly aggressive form of cancer that is refractory to current treatment options. By collecting tissue and blood samples along with clinical data across the UK we will be able to accumulate numerically significant numbers of samples and data points which will facilitate research opportunities. Researchers will be encouraged to apply for access to the collected samples in order to try and establish the causal mechanisms for disease development, potential therapeutic targets and to relate clinical course and outcome with specific molecular defects. Due to the rarity it is not feasible for a single cancer centre or cancer network to accumulate sufficient samples for research in a meaningful timeframe hence the need for national collaboration in order to try and offer patients with this disease hope in the future.
All UK patients with anaplastic thyroid cancer would be potentially eligible. The project is expected to run for at least 15 years and all thyroid cancer clinicians will be encouraged to participate. Patients will be asked to donate surplus thyroid cancer tissue following routine biopsy procedures along with an optional blood sample.
Primary Objectives The primary objective of this project is to establish a national anaplastic thyroid cancer tissue collection to help facilitate both basic and translational research opportunities.
There is no direct research question that the project itself addresses at this stage. The research proposals that subsequently arise as a result of this project will be generated by accredited research parties from the UK and potentially internationally. These research proposals will be submitted to the interNational Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer Tissue Bank and Database Project (iNATT) Steering Committee for assessment. As the volume of material collected per patient is expected to be of small volume, by virtue of the specimen comprising core biopsy or fine needle aspirate material, research proposals will need to be prioritised according to the potential benefits the proposed research offers. Priority will be given to projects that may lead to the identification of potential therapeutic targets. Each research proposal will require their own ethical approval and research and development assessments before commencing.
The steering committee will be multidisciplinary and will include nationally respected researchers and thyroid cancer clinicians.
Scientific Justification The long term objective is to try and address the current lack of understanding about the aetiology and progression of this disease and ultimately to develop new therapeutic interventions that may slow the rate of disease progression, improve quality of life and prolong what is currently a very short survival.
Due to the short prognosis following diagnosis it is notoriously difficult to run interventional therapeutic clinical trials in this patient population. Patients usually present with locally advanced and metastatic disease and as a consequence are often of poor performance status making clinical trial participation very problematic. If potential therapeutic targets could be identified in vivo it would potentially open up new therapeutic avenues whilst sparing some patients with the ‘wrong’ molecular profile futile treatment.
This is a unique project within the setting of anaplastic thyroid cancer research.