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A new 7-year study in collaboration with Janssen Research & Development aims to enable earlier detection of blood cancers.

This research programme is centred around an observational cohort study, named OxPLoreD, that will recruit 1650 patients from across the UK at higher risk of developing certain types of blood cancers that arise from the immune system, such as chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) and multiple myeloma. The aim is to identify markers that could be used to predict who will go on to develop symptomatic disease.

Led by Professor Anna Schuh from the Department of Oncology, researchers will study genetic and immune markers in the blood and bone marrow, monitoring patients over the lifetime of the programme to identify those who develop leukaemia or myeloma. About 10% of people aged 70+ will have a “pre-malignant” change in their immune system. Of these, only 1% per year will develop cancer that requires treatment. By studying these conditions in more detail, the research alliance aims to identify biomarkers in the DNA and the immune system of people who go on to develop cancer, ultimately looking for new ways to find and treat blood cancer sooner, whilst identifying those who do not need follow up in specialist cancer centres.

Study leader Anna Schuh comments, “CLL and myeloma are the most common blood cancers found in adults, becoming more common with age. Many of those diagnosed remain well, initially managed by active surveillance. In the last few years, we have witnessed a transformation in treatments for these diseases with significant improvements in survival. However, CLL and myeloma remain essentially incurable as the cancer cells ultimately evade treatment. It is therefore time to consider treating these cancers earlier, when they have not had time to evolve. To do this effectively, we need to ensure we can distinguish patients who will develop symptomatic disease from those who will not, ideally using simple blood tests. This programme is about advancing such an approach.”

Professor Mark Middleton, Co-Director of the CRUK Oxford Centre said “we are delighted that Oxford is forming a long-term collaboration with Janssen to support early detection research for blood cancer. We believe that the study of high risk patient groups has the potential to provide insights which will support much earlier diagnosis and appropriate treatment for many patients. This collaboration forms part of our on-going strategy to support early detection and intervention research building on Oxford’s world leading expertise in both fundamental biology, and clinical experimental medicine expertise.”

Find out more about this study on the CRUK Oxford Centre website or by visiting the OxPLoreD website.

This work is funded by:

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