SOUTHAMPTON scientists have launched a major new trial for people with an aggressive form of lymphoma.

The REMoDL-A trial is being led by researchers at the Cancer Research UK Southampton Centre and the Southampton Clinical Trials Unit (SCTU) at the University of Southampton.

It is hoped the trial could improve outcomes for people with an aggressive form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

The trial will test whether adding a targeted cancer drug called acalabrutinib to standard chemotherapy could be effective treatment for patients, depending on the genetic profile of their individual cancer.

Around 5,500 people are diagnosed with diffuse large B cell lymphoma (DLBCL) each year in the UK. It develops when the body begins to make abnormal white blood cells that build-up in the lymph nodes and prevent the body from dealing with infections in the normal way.

Standard treatment for DLBCL is a combination of chemotherapy drugs called R-CHOP3. Though this treatment works well for many people, some patients will not see a response, while for others it stops being effective and the lymphoma comes back.

Up to 558 patients with previously untreated DLBCL will be recruited into the trial. Each will receive one round of R-CHOP chemotherapy, during which time blood and tumour samples will be sent for molecular profiling to determine the genetic make-up of their cancer.

Patients will then be randomised to either continue receiving chemotherapy alone, or to have chemotherapy plus acalabrutinib.

Professor Andrew Davies, Professor of Haematological Oncology and chief investigator of the REMoDL-A trial said: “By looking at the molecular make-up of a patient’s lymphoma and then seeing how they respond to treatment, we hope to be able to determine whether adding acalabrutinib to standard chemotherapy improves outcomes for these patients, and whether people with different molecular profiles respond to the drug in different ways.

"This information could help us explore the best treatment options for individual patients and help lead to a more personalised approach to treating for DLBCL in the future.”

REMoDL-A has recruited its first patients and is now open at University Hospital Southampton, giving DLBCL patients across the south a chance to take part in the trial. Eventually it will open at 50 hospital sites across the UK.