A major new trial has been launched which could transform outcomes for patients with bladder cancer by matching treatments to genetic information found within their cancer.

The GUSTO trial seeks to establish if treatments for muscle-invasive bladder cancer can be tailored to different genetic subtypes known to cause the disease.

Bladder cancer is one of the most common and most expensive-to-treat cancers.

The trial is jointly led by the University of Southampton, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Leeds.

Co-chief investigator of the study and Professor of Experimental Cancer Therapeutics at the University of Southampton, Simon Crabb said: “GUSTO is attempting to fundamentally change our approach to the treatment of bladder cancer.

“We hope to utilise the biological characteristics of each cancer to tailor the correct treatment choices.

“The aim is to provide the right treatment to the right patient and so improve outcomes as well as avoid unnecessary side effects.”

Current standard treatments for patients with cancer of the bladder wall involve chemotherapy before either surgery to remove the bladder or radiotherapy.

Until now, it has not been possible to say how individuals will respond to this treatment.

However, new research suggests that different genetic causes of bladder cancers may respond differently to different treatments – meaning some patients may respond best to chemotherapy.

Other subtypes of the cancer may respond better to immunotherapy and so need this treatment alone or as a boost to chemotherapy.

Finally, some cancers may not respond to either chemotherapy or immunotherapy and so need immediate surgery.

Researchers hope the study will improve survival rates and boost the quality of life for patients following surgery.

A total of 320 patients will be involved in the study, which is set to run in up to 20 UK sites including University Hospital Southampton.

Half of the patients in the study will receive treatments based on their genetic subtype, whilst the other half will receive the current standard treatment.