N-of-1 Trials in Pediatric Oncology: From a Population-Based Approach to Personalized Medicine-A Review

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Year of publication 2021
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Cancers
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Medicine

Web https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6694/13/21/5428/htm
Doi http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/cancers13215428
Keywords small samples; N-of-1; rare diseases; personalized treatment; pediatric oncology; design; statistical analysis
Description Pediatric oncology is a critical area where the more efficient development of new treatments is urgently needed. The speed of approval of new drugs is still limited by regulatory requirements and a lack of innovative designs appropriate for trials in children. Childhood cancers meet the criteria of rare diseases. Personalized medicine brings it even closer to the horizon of individual cases. Thus, not all the traditional research tools, such as large-scale RCTs, are always suitable or even applicable, mainly due to limited sample sizes. Small samples and traditional versus subject-specific evidence are both distinctive issues in personalized pediatric oncology. Modern analytical approaches and adaptations of the paradigms of evidence are warranted. We have reviewed innovative trial designs and analytical methods developed for small populations, together with individualized approaches, given their applicability to pediatric oncology. We discuss traditional population-based and individualized perspectives of inferences and evidence, and explain the possibilities of using various methods in pediatric personalized oncology. We find that specific derivatives of the original N-of-1 trial design adapted for pediatric personalized oncology may represent an optimal analytical tool for this area of medicine. We conclude that no particular N-of-1 strategy can provide a solution. Rather, a whole range of approaches is needed to satisfy the new inferential and analytical paradigms of modern medicine. We reveal a new view of cancer as continuum model and discuss the “evidence puzzle”.
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