At present only a fraction of the data collected from patients in the clinic is used to determine treatment options. This is because the data is stored in different formats and locations making it difficult to compare and analyse.
The new funding from the US Department of Defence, Department of the Navy, Office of Naval Research will be used by researchers at the University of Cambridge to bring together many different types of patient data in one place to create an integrated data platform. This will enable researchers to compare and examine the data and to develop tools to predict the best treatment option for each patient.
Samples that have already been collected from over 6,000 breast cancer patients who have taken part in research studies and clinical trials, and agreed for their data to be used in research, will be combined to increase our understanding of how different subtypes of breast cancer respond to different treatment options.
Alongside each biopsy sample a variety of genomic, imaging, molecular and clinical data has also been recorded, but all the different types of information are currently stored separately making useful analysis difficult.
Initially these massive diverse data sets will be merged using cutting edge technology to create a multi-modal breast cancer resource called Synergia-Breast Cancer.
The data will then be analysed collectively using machine learning and artificial intelligence to identify the key factors that determine why some cancers respond to treatment and others do not, and why some cancers recur and spread while others do not.
Using the results of this analysis, the team will develop tools for use in the clinic to predict which treatment option is best for each patient, how they will respond to treatment and detect the earliest signs of relapse.
Patient advocates have played an essential role in developing the project proposal and will be part of the research team throughout the project to ensure that the integrated data platform and prediction tools meet the needs of breast cancer patients and address any concerns.
This exciting four-year project is led by Prof Jean Abraham, Director of the Precision Breast Cancer Institute (PBCI) at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Centre and will build on the PBCI’s pioneering research to improve and personalise treatment for breast cancer patients.
Prof Greg Hannon, Director of the CRUK Cambridge Institute (CRUK CI) is the partnering investigator for the project.
Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Office of Naval Research.