Master protocols in lung cancer: experience from Lung Master Protocol

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Purpose of review

Contemporary advances in the understanding of the molecular and immunologic basis of metastatic lung cancer have firmly changed its treatment paradigm to a personalized, biomarker-driven approach. However, the majority of lung-cancer patients [especially lung squamous cell carcinoma (LUSC)] still do not have effective targeted therapeutic options. Master protocols, such as Lung-MAP, represent an innovative clinical trial approach designed to accelerate evaluation of novel biomarker-driven therapies.

Recent findings

Lung-MAP is an umbrella trial for advanced LUSC and has been active since 2014. Cumulative experience from this overarching, multi-institution master protocol has demonstrated that centralized, real-time biomarker screening is feasible and substudy modularity is essential for protocol adaptability in a rapidly changing treatment landscape. In addition, screening and efficacy results from Lung-MAP affirm that LUSC has several putative drivers but remains difficult to effectively treat with targeted therapy.


Master protocols are a feasible and efficient approach for evaluating biomarker-driven therapies in lung cancer. As we begin to target less common genomic and immunotherapy subtypes, centrally coordinated clinical trial designs such as Lung-MAP are necessary to rapidly deliver effective therapies to patients, whereas also maximizing the quality of research data obtained.

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