The Zero Childhood Cancer Program (ZERO) is poised to cut the clinical curation data analysis period – the time it takes to interpret crucial information about a young patient’s cancer – by seventy per cent, using its new ZeroDash analysis platform.
Led by Children’s Cancer Institute and the Kids Cancer Centre at Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick, in collaboration with all children’s hospitals nationally, ZERO is Australia’s most comprehensive precision medicine program for children with cancer. Each child’s cancer is analysed at a molecular level to look for any genetic mutations or alterations that could be driving the cancer’s growth, then subsequently identifying any drugs capable of targeting those alterations.
When faced with a situation where every day counts, the time it takes to receive an effective diagnosis and treatment recommendation is of crucial significance. Interpreting the large amounts of data, which has been done manually until now, in a clinically relevant timeframe is a major challenge.
By streamlining the data matching, interpretation, and reporting system, the ZERO team aim to significantly reduce hands-on analysis time from the current 22 hours down to 6.5.
To achieve this, Genomics and Bioinformatics Lead, Associate Professor Mark Cowley, has formed a strategic partnership with two Australian companies, Secure Agility and We Discover, who have designed and built a “molecular curation portal” – aptly named ZeroDash. Associate Professor Cowley says teaming up with these amazing companies is another important step in being able to expand the program to be accessible to all children in Australia diagnosed with cancer.
“ZeroDash is a digital precision medicine platform, which is essential to enable us to deliver the ambitious challenge of scaling up the ZERO program from 150 children per year to 1000, without compromising the high quality of data interpretation that we and our clinicians require. Importantly, it will also allow us to develop datasets that can be mined for incredible discovery science, including identifying new disease subtypes and drug targets,” he says.
“The teams from Secure Agility and We Discover have worked tirelessly with us to understand this complex problem, then design and develop the ZeroDash solution.”
Scott Forrester, CEO of We Discover, says his team was motivated to help by the ability to improve outcomes for all children with cancer.
“I recall my first meeting with Children’s Cancer Institute and learning about the complexities involved from their team to analyse and prescribe treatments for children with cancer. It was incredibly inspiring, sobering and disheartening all at the same time. I made a commitment that day, for We Discover to do whatever we could to help improve the Zero Childhood Cancer Precision Medicine Program. I am so proud of our partnership and the positive impact that our work will have on the future of children’s cancer diagnosis in Australia.”
Precision Medicine Informatics Manager Dr. Marie Wong-Erasmus says this novel platform will unblock a major bottleneck in precision medicine, which is to determine the correct cancer diagnosis and identify a treatment recommendation in a faster and more streamlined manner.
“Secure Agility has built the solution, optimised the databases, developed the microservices architecture, and coded the front-end user interface based on the discovery and design work done by UX design team We Discover, who designed a streamlined and intuitive user interface to simplify the analysis of these complex data. ZeroDash will also significantly reduce the number of data analysis queries needed to interpret each case.” Dr Wong said.
To date, the analysis and curation of patient genomic profiles have been conducted using Glooee, a novel system developed by Dr Wong. Molecular data is collated in databases and summarised in extraordinarily large spreadsheets (one per patient), which is methodically interpreted by molecular curation scientists who are looking for medically relevant variants.
“Phasing out spreadsheets and developing a proper user interface will allow us to present the information that is most relevant for the context of each molecular change, significantly reducing the number of other websites that each curator would then normally need to visit,” says Dr Wong.
The ZERO team believe this step to optimise current processes in analysing, presenting and reporting molecular data will result in better and faster outcomes for children with cancer. The significance of such an outcome cannot be overstated.
ABOUT ZERO CHILDHOOD CANCER
The Zero Childhood Cancer Program (ZERO) is a world-leading precision medicine program for children with cancer. Led by Children’s Cancer Institute and Kids Cancer Centre at Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick, ZERO includes all nine of Australia’s children’s hospitals together with 22 national and international research partners. Providing in-depth genomic analysis for each child, ZERO aims to improve survival, reduce side effects, and advance science’s understanding of childhood cancer for the benefit of all.
ZERO is at the forefront of scientific and technological discovery, driving advances as quickly as possible from the lab into the clinic. These advances are not only benefiting children with cancer today, but are leading to a whole new understanding of childhood cancer that stands to revolutionise the model of care for all children with cancer in the future.
For more information zerochildhoodcancer.org.au
ABOUT SECURE AGILITY
Secure Agility is a Sydney-based specialist IT, cloud and managed services provider to Enterprise and Government. Secure Agility delivers enterprise technology expertise in cloud, network and security, IoT and workplace modernisation solutions
ABOUT WE DISCOVER
We Discover™ is an Australian based Creative and Design Thinking Agency committed to innovation and creativity, empowering brands to inspire their audiences and change the game.
We create meaningful experiences that people need and love, we help tech companies and innovative brands through the application of creativity and design-thinking techniques to design innovative digital experiences that inspire audiences.
Our services encompass product discovery, customer and user research, prototyping, product design, branding and UX/UI design. We’ve amplified innovative user experiences across a range of industries and technologies including finance, property, tourism, cybersecurity, healthcare, government, blockchain and Web3.
More at wediscover.com.au