It’s hard to believe, but Lung-MAP is almost six years old. We launched it in June 2014, and at the time, there was nothing else like it.

Lung-MAP was one of the very first master protocols ever introduced, in cancer or any disease, and it is the product of a partnership that remains unique. Lung-MAP spun out of a 2012 conference organized by Friends of Cancer Research, the Washington, DC advocacy group, and attended by participants from the FDA and the NCI, as well as leaders from industry, academia, and advocacy. At the same time, Friends and members of the NCI’s Thoracic Malignancy Steering Committee, including investigators from SWOG Cancer Research Network, started talking about designing a new master protocol for lung cancer. Lung-MAP was born.

And it continues today, still bringing SWOG together with the NCI, Friends, and the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health. What we’ve achieved is detailed in today’s issue of The Cancer Letter, in an article written by Dr. Roy Herbst, the Lung-MAP steering committee chair and new SWOG study lead, and three study co-chairs: Drs. Lyudmila Bazhenova from NRG Oncology, Joel Neal from the ECOG-ACRIN Cancer Research Group, and Saiama N. Waqar from the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology.

I encourage those interested to read the piece. You’ll get a full accounting of trial accomplishments, the most notable of which is our testing 12 investigational drugs in just five years – much faster than single-arm, single-drug phase III trials could manage. There are other innovations of note, including trial leaders being among the first to partner with Foundation Medicine to develop its next generation sequencing (NGS) platform. It’s now the industry standard.

Gaining new perspective is one of the rewards of reading The Cancer Letter story. Here at SWOG, we’re steeped in cancer trials. We hold calls every day to talk about ongoing studies and hold calls every week to discuss new concepts. We attend conferences, write papers, chase grants. When cancer research is your daily work, it’s easy to lose the long view.

Even with master protocols like Immuno-MATCH and Combo-MATCH mushrooming, these basket and umbrella designs were a very risky proposition just a few years ago. Not anymore. As the precision medicine era marches on, quickly testing targeted treatments and immunotherapies, not to mention screening large populations, are the order of the day. So are public-private partnerships, next generation sequencing, and embracing new ways to involve patients and site staff in trial conduct. Lung-MAP seems mainstream today, but that very fact is proof of its success. Stay tuned for much more to come!