A new European initiative aims to use big data to improve outcomes for patients with blood diseases.
Consisting of 51 partners from 11 European countries, the HARMONY project is focused on multiple myeloma (MM), acute myeloid leukemia (AML), acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), non-Hodgkins lymphoma (NHL), myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS), and pediatric hematological malignancies (HMs). Seven pharmaceutical companies are involved in the initiative.
The five-year, 40 million euro ($42.6 million) project began this month and is being funded through the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), Europe’s largest public-private initiative aimed at speeding up the development of better and safer medicines.
Partners from Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, and the U.K. will bring together key players in patient, academic, regulatory, ethical, and pharmaceutical fields.
The HARMONY project’s central goal is developing a platform using anonymous patient data. The system could help patients and clinicians better understand the diseases and how to most efficiently treat them. Other endpoints include:
- Establishing a new network reflecting the European Hematological Malignancies landscape;
- Defining clinical endpoints and standard outcomes in ALL, AML, CLL, MDS, MM, and NHL;
- Providing a means for assessing complex data sets involving several layers of information; and
- Identify innovative and effective therapies for blood disorders.
In related news, Pluristem Therapeutics and the New York Blood Center (NYBC) will collaborate on preclinical studies of Pluristem’s placental eXpanded (PLX)-R18 cells, which are meant to improve the effectiveness of umbilical cord blood transplants. Such transplants are an alternative to ones using bone marrow for leukemia and lymphoma patients who do not have matching donors.
The collaboration has been chosen to receive a conditional award of $900,000 from the Israel-U.S. Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation (BIRD), according to a press release.
Umbilical cord blood cells provide a rich supply of stem cells, but studies have shown that they do not reach the bone marrow or produce blood cells as efficiently as transplanted bone marrow cells. That leaves patients at risk of infections and complications.
Research has suggested that PLX-R18 cells could help cord-blood stem cells reach the bone marrow faster and effectively re-establish the blood cell production. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized a Phase 1 trial of PLX-R18 (NCT03002519) in patients with incomplete hematopoietic recovery after a hematopoietic stem cell transplant.
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