Dr Karthik Ramasamy has been awarded a clinical academic research partnership (CARP) from the MRC to research approaches for diagnosing the bone marrow cancer myeloma earlier.
Earlier diagnosis of myeloma is a high priority for patients since it can both improve survival and allow better control of symptoms. Every case of myeloma is preceded by a condition called Monoclonal Gammopathy of Undetermined Significance (MGUS) and individuals with MGUS are regularly monitored so that progression to myeloma can be caught early.
While this approach is benefitting some patients, there are two main issues that still need to be overcome to improve myeloma diagnosis:
- MGUS is largely symptomless and often undiagnosed, meaning that 80-90% of myeloma patients are diagnosed without first receiving an MGUS diagnosis that would have prompted monitoring for myeloma.
- Only 1% of patients with MGUS progress to myeloma every year and the risk of progression is not well defined, placing a large resource burden for monitoring on healthcare providers and creating anxiety for patients.
In this MRC CARP award, Dr Karthik Ramasamy will address both of these challenges. Firstly, working with Professor Kassim Javaid, Professor Daniel Prieto-Alhambra, Dr Constantinos Koshiaris and data from primary care health records, Dr Ramasamy will identify specific clinical signs/symptom clusters associated with MGUS to enable a greater proportion of individuals with MGUS to be diagnosed and monitored. Secondly, additionally collaborating with Dr Ross Sadler, Professor Chris Schofield and Professor James McCullagh, Dr Ramasamy will seek to identify routinely recorded clinical characteristics and additional protein biomarkers that improve prediction of progression from MGUS to myeloma in a cohort of patients undergoing monitoring at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust. This latter work is bolstered by a recent CRUK Oxford Centre Development Fund award, which will enable the research team additionally to pilot protein glycosylation analysis in blood samples collected as part of a current study investigating serological markers in plasma cell disorders (BLOOM).
Dr Karthik Ramasamy is Lead Clinician for myeloma and other plasma disorders in the Thames Valley Strategic Clinical Network and Divisional Lead of Cancer Research across Thames Valley and South Midlands Research Network.
The Medical Research Council Clinical Academic Research Partnership scheme allows NHS consultants with a PhD or MD to participate in collaborative high-quality research partnerships with established leading biomedical researchers.