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Progress Update: HARMONY gains momentum to improve blood cancer treatment

September 30, 2019 11:02 - x 00, 0 - 00:00

Florence, 26 September 2019

The European public-private partnership 'HARMONY' is gaining momentum. In June 2019, the Alliance announced that its innovative Big Data Platform was ready to meet its milestone of capturing anonymized data records from 45 000 patients with blood cancer. Since then, several dedicated research project teams have begun to mine the data and conduct research with the ultimate goal of improving blood cancer treatments. 

The HARMONY Big Data Platform is one of the largest of its kind in the world. HARMONY is aiming to expand the Platform to at least 100 000 patient records within the lifetime of the Alliance (2017–2021). Scientists can use this unique resource to characterize the molecular landscape of Hematologic Malignancies (blood cancers), understand their pathophysiology, and identify novel drug targets. Ultimately, clinicians should be able to use the platform to rapidly select the most promising treatment for an individual patient; this is known as personalized medicine.

Expanding network 

The strength of HARMONY's Big Data Platform is in the numbers: by combining data from tens of thousands of patients, HARMONY scientists hope to find robust answers to critical questions in the field that are so far unanswered. HARMONY Project Coordinator Jesús María Hernández Rivas (IBSAL): "Since its establishment in 2017, HARMONY has managed to expand its network to 90 European organizations. These include academic institutions, pharmaceutical companies, patient organizations, HTA and regulatory agencies, as well as a large number of associated hospitals from across Europe. These organizations have formed multiple dedicated groups that are addressing specific research questions."  

Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) 

One of the ongoing research projects aims to identify gene-gene interactions that contribute to the heterogeneity of AML. Lars Bullinger of Charité (Germany) and Lead of HARMONY Work Package 2  explains: "AML is the most common form of acute leukemia in adults. Despite recent scientific advances, AML cure rates remain poor compared with other hematologic malignancies. In AML, we are already reaping the benefits of the HARMONY Big Data Platform; we have captured anonymized data records from thousands of patients with AML. As a proof of concept, we have already shown that combining these data allows us to predict more precisely how the presence of certain mutations influences the prognosis of patients with AML." Read more >


Delphi study for AML 

Another 'work in progress' is the effort to identify a minimum set of outcomes to be measured in future clinical trials of AML. Jan Geissler of Leukanet, representing the HARMONY Patient Cluster: "One of HARMONY's aims is to increase consistency in future clinical trials, allowing for results to be compared and combined. To do this, clinical trials need to use consistent core outcomes. In an ongoing pilot study, we are compiling a set of the most important outcomes for AML using the so-called 'Delphi method'. This method helps to ensure that the core outcome set represents the priorities of clinicians, industry, health authorities, and patients alike. After completion of the pilot, we will initiate similar projects for the other hematological malignancies that are being studied as part of HARMONY. In the long term, we hope that a core outcome set will help to ensure improvements in patient satisfaction during and after treatment." Read more > 

Other Hematologic Malignancies 

Other HARMONY research groups are also working to exploit the Big Data Platform to perform analyses of risk factors for specific hematologic malignancies. For instance: 
•    What is the best way to prevent and manage complications of APL treatment?
•    How do mutations in 11 of the most frequently mutated genes in CLL correlate to prognosis and treatment response?
•    Which subgroups of MDS patients benefit from treatment with hypomethylating agents?
•    Does one specifi c treatment provide improved outcomes in patients with aggressive MM?
•    What are the molecular and genetic drivers of T-cell Non-Hodgkin Lymphomas
Click here to read about the research projects being conducted >

Sustainable network 

On 26 and 27 September 2019, HARMONY partners will gather in Florence (Italy) at the annual HARMONY General Assembly. HARMONY Project Lead Frederico Calado (Novartis): "During these 2 days, representatives from our Partners and Associated Members will share project updates, participate in round tables, and engage in research-a-thon sessions for each of the seven hematologic malignancies that we currently study. The meeting will also be the starting point for a second wave of HARMONY research projects. In addition, we will devise plans to ensure that our network will be sustainable after the HARMONY Alliance comes to an end in 2021”. 

This Progress Update is developed by the team of HARMONY Work Package 7, Dissemination, Communication and Training. Contact: Ellen de Waal, HARMONY Communication Manager, e.dewaal@ehaweb.org.

The HARMONY Alliance: a public-private European Network of Excellence for Big Data in Hematology, established in January 2017. Our mission is to unlock and spread valuable knowledge on hematologic malignancies (blood cancers) among a large number of stakeholders, with the goal to harness and mine Big Data to speed up the development of improved treatments for patients and more effective treatment strategies.

HARMONY currently has 53 Partners and 35 Associated Members from 22 countries. HARMONY is funded through the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), Europe's largest public-private initiative aiming to speed up the development of better and safer medicines for patients.

HARMONY has received funding from IMI 2 Joint Undertaking and is listed under grant agreement
No. 116026. This Joint Undertaking receives support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme and the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA). IMI supports collaborative research projects and builds networks of industrial and academic experts in order to boost pharmaceutical innovation in Europe.



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