Grant to help address complexity of cancer careJan. 10, 2019, 11:47 AM
by Tom Wilemon
Jeremy Warner, MD, MS, associate professor of Medicine and Biomedical Informatics, has been awarded a $1 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to develop software that will help clinicians keep up with the increasing complexity of cancer care.
The work will initially focus on two common cancers — breast cancer and multiple myeloma — but the software developed should be applicable to a wider variety of cancers.
“We didn’t want to boil the ocean, so we are starting with two common and, also, fairly complicated cancers,” Warner said.
Using multiple myeloma as an example, he noted that retrospective studies have categorized more than 100 approaches to treating patients with relapsed disease. Warner and his research partners plan to analyze data from large volumes of patient cases and compare their findings to the literature-based evidence. While research into treatment for multiple myeloma relapse has been “fairly robust,” he said, the advantages of some treatment courses over others are not clear.
“Our network-based approach could help tease out some potentially best-practice pathways to follow,” Warner said.
Postoperative treatment for breast cancer and other cancers has become more complex as new drugs increasingly target specific tumor mutations or are prescribed according to cancer subtypes.
“Doctors have this knowledge management issue where they’ve gone from every cancer having the same treatment regime for the past 40 years to now having five to 10 different options to choose from,” Warner said. “I’m not even talking about clinical trial options, but just standards of care.”
The initiative, Network Analysis for a Data-Driven Approach to Cancer Care, is in early stage development. Warner and colleagues aim to develop multiple software programs for different platforms and audiences, including practicing oncologists, medical students and other trainees and cancer researchers. Partners on the project include representatives of Harvard University and the University of Texas Medical Branch.