REFINE (Reduced Frequency ImmuNE checkpoint inhibition in cancers) is a clinical trial for patients who are receiving immune checkpoint inhibitors for the treatment of advanced cancers. These drugs work by stimulating the body’s own immune system to fight against cancer cells. Immune checkpoint inhibitors can stop cancers growing for many months or years.
Immune checkpoint inhibitors are given to patients through an injection into a vein every 3-6 weeks in a hospital or clinic. Blood tests are needed before each injection. This means that patients spend a lot of time (and money) on hospital visits.
Clinical trials have proven the effectiveness of immune checkpoint inhibitors in the treatment of different cancers. However, the best way to give these drugs is not known. It is likely that immune checkpoint inhibitors work for a longer period of time than originally thought. This means it may be possible to give the drugs less often and still have the same effect on the cancer. The REFINE trial tests whether giving an immunotherapy drug less often to patients with advanced cancer results in fewer side effects and improved quality of life, whilst continuing to be an effective treatment. Giving these drugs less often may also allow the NHS to deliver equally effective treatment at a lower cost.