Improving AML treatment through the HARMONY project

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Published: 23 Nov 2017
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Prof Brian Huntly - University of Cambridge

Prof Brian Huntly from the University of Cambridge talks to ecancer at the HARMONY 2017 meeting in Berlin. He is a key opinion leader for the HARMONY intiative and focusses particularly on the treatment of AML. 

I’m one of the what’s called key opinion leaders for a disease called acute myeloid leukaemia, which is a devastating and aggressive acute leukaemia. It’s also one of the diseases that we have a great deal of genomic data; patients don’t do particularly well – long term survival is less than 30% - so we obviously need to improve on that. It’s a very heterogeneous disease in that there are many different subtypes and each subtype probably has an ideal therapeutic, although we don’t really know what these are yet. So collectively bringing together large datasets will make these small numbers of patients bigger numbers of patients and will allow for us to develop specific therapies ideally for each of these patients and allow us to improve on the outcomes.

Is it important to you to be able to incorporate data from across Europe?

It is, it’s a relatively rare disease so again, and because of its heterogeneity, you need large numbers of patients which are not actually accrued in any single country. So bringing all those datasets together is the only way to really get the patient numbers to allow us to make meaningful statistics and to work out what the best treatments for these patients are.

So is this an unusual opportunity?

It’s unique, certainly in Europe, and it’s the way that things will have to go for relatively rare cancers, not just haematological malignancies. So this is really in the vanguard for the rest of cancer in terms of personalised medicine.

How long do you think it will be before patients see a benefit?

It’s difficult to say. We’re putting together infrastructures that will benefit patients in the medium term, so five years and beyond, but once we’ve got those structures together the benefits to patients will accelerate thereafter.