The NHS has announced that it is preparing to fast-track ‘game changing’ cancer drugs that target genetic mutations, targeting tumours according to their genetic make-up rather than where they originate in the body.

The revolutionary treatments – known as ‘tumour agnostic’ drugs – can be used against a wide range of cancers and could offer hope to patients with rare forms of the disease that may previously have been untreatable.

Existing cancer drugs need to be approved by NICE for each individual type of cancer they treat such as breast or colon cancer. However, when approved, these cutting edge new tumour agnostic drugs would be available to treat all types of tumour without individual approval.

The announcement follows NHS England’s landmark commercial deal in September last year to bring the pioneering CAR-T therapy to cancer patients in the UK.

The Accelerated Access Collaborative – established by the Government as part of the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy to speed up the adoption and uptake of innovative new treatments – will meet next week to discuss how they can support implementation.

The announcement is “further evidence that the NHS is open for business and is both willing and able to embrace innovative new treatments at pace,” says Lord Darzi, chair of the Accelerated Access Collaborative.

Darzi continued, “The advent of tumour agnostic drugs marks an important next step in the development of personalised, genomic driven medicine and these plans will be warmly welcomed by patients and the clinical community.”

The first of the new cancer drugs, which target genetic mutations that accelerate the growth of many types of tumours and have particular benefits for children, are set to come on to the market within months and two of the first candidate drugs are expected to be licensed later this year, and if priced responsibly, could be approved by NICE soon after.