Investment in big data for cancer research at Oxford Uni

October 31, 2014 − by Suzanne Elvidge − in Big data, Big data in research, Drug development, Healthcare big data analysis − No Comments

A £22 million Centre for Molecular Medicine at Oxford University, created as part of a partnership with the US-based Chan Soon-Shiong Institute, will focus on cancer genomics and molecular diagnostics. The aim of the project will be to understand more about the genetic and molecular changes underlying cancer, in order to develop better and more targeted cancer drugs.

The Chan-Soon-Shiong Oxford Centre for Molecular Medicine will focus on analysing and characterising tumour samples from patients in order to unpack the specific genetic and molecular changes that underlie individuals’ cancer, including solid tumours, leukaemias and lymphomas.

“The ability to understand the particular genetic and molecular changes underlying a patient’s cancer holds great potential for cancer medicine,” says Andrew Hamilton, vice-chancellor at Oxford University. “The Chan Soon-Shiong Oxford Centre for Molecular Medicine will not only use the latest techniques to characterise tumour samples from patients, but investigate how this can be used to guide the treatments individual patients receive.”

The challenge is in combining the huge quantities of genomic and other molecular data with clinical data, allowing researchers and physicians to stratify patients according to the characteristics of their disease. This will help doctors pick the treatments that the patients are most likely to respond to, and support drug researchers in developing new therapeutics. It will also have potential to speed up and improve clinical trials, by allowing recruitment of only those patients most likely to respond.

The Chan Soon-Shiong Oxford Centre will work in collaboration with the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust, and is expected to be based at the new Precision Cancer Medicine Institute.

As well as the £22 million of funding to establish the new institute, the Chan Soon-Shiong Institute will spend over £9 million on research equipment and data systems infrastructure in the UK, and Oxford University will have access to this.

“The infrastructure to manage big data must be established to enable a national network of clinical scientists in the UK,” says Patrick Soon-Shiong, founder and chair of the Chan Soon-Shiong Institute for Molecular Medicine.

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