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Welcome to the MErCuRIC Project

Published on 01 February 2018 back to previous

‘Le silence eternel de ces espaces infinis m’effraie’.

- Pascal

The above famous quote from the French philosopher, Blaise Pascal, haunted my mind as I walked away from a hospital appointment after being diagnosed with colorectal cancer (CRC) by a hospital consultant.  ‘Your chances of surviving beyond Christmas are 50/50’.  A gloomy prognosis to me, a mathematician.  Ironically, Pascal had been one of the founders of modern probability theory and had used the analogy of tossing a coin to illustrate it.  He was also known for his cynical BET – better to believe in an afterlife rather than take the chance of being punished after holding the alternative view.

Fortunately for me, the coin landed the right way and I am still here to tell the tale.  After intensive bouts of radiotherapy and gruelling surgery (with some nasty complications), I went into remission and conducted some personal research.  Family history revealed a pattern that suggested a genetic risk of CRC.  Also, the question arose as to why treatment had worked for me but not for many others.  I then discovered the work of the European research team, MErCuRIC, which had initiated a clinical trial with an innovative combination of medical drugs which would be potentially beneficial to the specific group of CRC patients with the most pernicious type of the condition.  This ‘personalised medicine approach’ offers new treatment to many sufferers of the disease.  Additionally, the information and samples collected during the trial will be made available for further research as new CRC drugs are developed.

Importantly, for anyone diagnosed with CRC, the team will also be able to develop new blood tests called liquid biopsies in order to determine the genetic makeup of the cancer of each patient.  Thus, in the future, doctors will be able to identify which patients are given the right treatment rather than those that are unlikely to work for their individual cancer type.  Let us then look forward to a time when our lives no longer depend on the toss of a coin.

Ed Goodall                                           


MErCuRIC is a multicentre phase Ib/II clinical trial which will assess a novel therapeutic strategy (combined treatment of a MEK inhibitor MEK-162 with a MET inhibitor PF-02341066) to combat metastasis, improve survival and change current clinical practice for CRC patients with KRAS mutant (MT) and KRAS wild-type (WT) (with aberrant c-MET) tumours. The consortium will go beyond the current state-of-the-art by (i) employing a novel treatment strategy targeting the biology of the disease and by (ii) using next-generation sequencing (NGS) and ‘xenopatients’ to identify CRC patient subgroups who will maximally benefit from this novel treatment strategy.

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More information here from Cancer Research UK

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