These days, storing photos or music remotely in “the cloud” has become common place. Now Johns Hopkins researchers are applying the concept to the storage of medical data in the hopes of predicting and improving cancer patient treatments and outcomes.
“The long-range goal is to make these data available through the Internet to physicians who are diagnosing and treating cancer patients around the world,” said Denis Wirtz , associate director of the Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology and professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering. Using a $3.75 million grant over five years from the National Cancer Institute Common Fund Single Cell Analysis Program, Wirtz launched the program in October, with two colleagues from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Anirban Maitra and Ralph Hruban.
Initially the database will focus on information from pancreatic cancer patient cell lines but will expand to other types of cancer, including ovarian. Data gathered and stored will be at the single cell level, which Wirtz explains, provides better information for predicting how individual patients may respond to certain drugs. Drugs that work well for one patient may do nothing at all, or even be harmful, for another, Wirtz said. Understanding and predicting these outcomes before treatment is a step toward more personalized medicine, he added.
To read more about “cloud pathology,” go to the press release issued by John Hopkins University.