NIH to test cancer drug combos against single therapy

The National Institutes of Health's cancer unit is launching the largest study to test combinations of cancer drugs in comparison to the drugs on their own, the organization said June 1. 

The trial will investigate whether two chemotherapies can clear out a tumor in mice before allowing for human participants, and Science reported this measure is "unusually rigorous."

Because of the scale of the study — which will include at least 2,000 patients — the National Cancer Institute said it will search for cancer patients with unique mutations. It will also research multiple combinations of drugs, both approved and investigational ones contributed by drugmakers. 

"Hundreds of thousands of potential drug combinations exist, so one challenge has been to narrow down and prioritize the most promising ones," the institute said in a news release. 

The project will start with 12 small trials of advanced cancer patients who have not seen success with standard therapies.

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