Blood cancer charity Cure Leukaemia is creating a new data platform using the latest human genome mapping to transform the lives of blood cancer patients.
The Birmingham-based charity has agreed a partnership with IT solutions specialist, Worcestershire-based OGL, for a bespoke platform collating data on patients’ treatments and responses.
It is the first project of its kind in the study of leukaemia and will mean a searchable database referencing patient results against their DNA, blood-type and other individual markers.
Professor Charlie Craddock, co-founder of Cure Leukaemia, said it would allow analysts to identify trends in patients’ responses to drugs, to support the centre in identifying the most effective treatments for new patients.
It also promises to deliver a healthy return as with the culturally diverse nature of patients – in a conurbation of 5.6 million people and a variety of ethnicities – it will deliver a rare insight which would could be sold on to pharmaceutical firms.
Prof Craddock said: “There is a compelling need to identify new treatments for patients with leukaemia across Birmingham and the West Midlands. At the same time, this region has the most diverse population in Europe, which makes it very attractive for pharmaceutical companies looking to trial new, potentially life-saving treatments.
“Cure Leukaemia has been able to leverage this advantage through our growing network of research nurses and patient trials across the West Midlands. What’s exciting for Greater Birmingham is that few other city regions have access to such a diverse patient group, or the structure in place to deliver a project of this nature.”
The project will create a bespoke platform to enable the Centre for Clinical Haematology at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital to collate samples from leukaemia patients undergoing clinical trials. The Centre for Clinical Haematology, supported by Cure Leukaemia, was established in 2003 and has treated more than 4,000 patients, securing over £20 million worth of free drugs for clinical trials.
Prof Craddock said the new innovation fitted in with Birmingham City Council and Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership plans to target digital technology and life sciences as major engines for job creation.
He added: “This project exemplifies the opportunities that are available when you bring the two together.
“Combining these strengths will allow Birmingham to lead the way internationally in developing personalised medicine. In other words, to identify factors within an individual’s DNA code which determine their likelihood of responding to new treatment. Nowhere is this transformational new strategy of designing and selecting the best drugs more vital than in treating patients with blood cancers.
“Building on the previous work of Cure Leukaemia and partnering with OGL, the medical team at the Centre for Clinical Haematology at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital are launching a new research initiative aimed at defining predictors of response to standard chemotherapy and the new drugs that our Birmingham team are trialling.
“This is a huge and complex piece of work, and we are incredibly grateful to OGL for partnering with the Centre for Clinical Haematology to deliver a potentially life-changing piece of technology.”
Paul Colwell, of OGL, said the firm had invested in cloud computing in recent years, largely for commercial clients, but the technology, combined with clinical trials, could improve outcomes for leukaemia patients.
He said: “We are working closely with Professor Craddock, Dr Ram Malladi at the Centre for Clinical Haematology and partners across the NHS and Innovation Birmingham Campus to deliver this project, which we believe has the potential to change the face of leukaemia treatment and make a significant impact on the lives of patients.”