Birmingham blood cancer charity, Cure Leukaemia, has announced a ground-breaking partnership with IT solutions specialist, Worcestershire-based OGL, to deliver an innovative data project that aims to transform outcomes for leukaemia patients.
The project, one of the first of its kind in the study of leukaemia, will create a bespoke platform to enable the Centre for Clinical Haematology at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, to collate samples from leukaemia patients undergoing clinical trials. When referenced against a patient’s own DNA, blood-type and other individual markers, the fully searchable database will enable analysts to identify trends in patients’ responses to drugs, to support the Centre in identifying the most effective treatments for new patients.
The Centre for Clinical Haematology, supported by Cure Leukaemia, was established in 2003 and has treated over 4,000 patients, leveraging over £20 million of free drugs for clinical trials.
Professor Charlie Craddock, co-founder of Cure Leukaemia, 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 Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership has identified digital technology and life sciences as two of the major engines for job creation, and 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, at OGL said:
“As a business we have made huge investment in recent years into cloud computing to enable our commercial clients to benefit from cutting edge new technologies. When we were introduced to Cure Leukaemia last year, I was immediately interested to see what we could do to support the ambitions of the charity, and how cloud technology combined with cutting edge clinical trials could improve outcomes for leukaemia patients.
“The first stage is to bring the thousands of datasets, many of which are kept in disparate locations, together for the first time. Emerging technology now means that it is possible to take that large volume of data and query it – something that wouldn’t have been possible even a couple of years ago.
“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.”