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On 19 June, the Centre for Translational Medicine (CTM) for Stratified and Systems Medicine met with leaders from all other AHSC programmes to set the agenda for a future of personalised medicine.

Stratified medicine is an approach in which tools are used to stratify patient cohorts by sub-classes of disease or the likelihood of responding to a particular treatment, intervention and disease management. This leads to a more informed diagnosis, treatment, prognosis and prevention of diseases for each patient.

Unifying force for all CTMs

The CTM for Stratified and Systems Medicine, one of the AHSC’s cross-cutting themes, is a highly integrative CTM that unites all CTMs within Imperial College AHSC, and thereby, merges state-of-the-art technologies with medicine. CTM lead Professor Jeremy Nicholson, Head of the Department of Surgery and Cancer at Imperial College London, chairs this committee.

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Professor Jeremy Nicholson

Professor Jeremy Nicholson

Speaking about the objectives of the CTM, he said: “Our aim is to identify personalisation targets that are relevant to the Trust and create a structure of personalised healthcare for our patient cohorts. Stratified medicine makes overall healthcare more efficient, improves the patient’s journey, minimises treatment cost and ultimately, makes an impact to the society.”

“Our committee is set up to identify bottlenecks in the translation of research in the laboratory to application in patient care and make recommendations for what is needed to streamline this process.”

Recognising the importance of synergy between the different research themes, Professor Nicholson said: “Through interaction with all our AHSC programmes and Biomedical Research Centre themes, we will bring together specialties in our cross cutting themes and therapeutic areas to enable patient stratification and make an early impact on patient care.”

Imperial Clinical Phenome Centre

Imperial Clinical Phenome Centre

Highlighting the world-beating facilities that make Imperial unique, he said: “The MRC-NIHR National Phenome Centre, based at Hammersmith Hospital, is the only centre in the world capable of state-of-the-art molecular profiling, while the Imperial Clinical Phenome Centre, based at St Mary’s Hospital, will help doctors diagnose illness more efficiently and choose the best treatments based on a patient’s individual metabolic and phenotypic characteristics.”

Moving on to how the CTM plans to handle the sheer volume of data produced, he said:  “We are now looking at big data capabilities to realign our informatics to analyse these rich data through fusing all our ‘omics’ technologies in a centrally located system.”

Describing the messages that he would like to convey to AHSC colleagues, Professor Nicholson said: “Our aim is to create the 21st century model of personalised healthcare for all. The programme harmonises scientific and clinical expertise across a range of disparate disciplines and projects, and will provide a vehicle for implementation of these translational molecular approaches in our clinical units.”

Having already led a team of experts on surgical innovation and the science of metabonomics towards development of the “intelligent knife”, iKnife, Professor Nicholson added: “The iKnife project is one part of our major translational research programme to create new real-time diagnostics to improve surgical decision-making. It represents a major step forward in the application of systems medicine approaches for monitoring and improving the surgical patient journey through the hospital environment.”

With regards to the CTM’s long term plans, he envisioned: “We would like to see personalised medicine become the optimised treatment for major diseases, particularly for diseases affecting the ageing population such as cardiovascular diseases, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes. In addition, we hope to tackle antibiotic resistance by identifying the background of opportunistic pathogen and changing the boundaries of infection.”

“Patients, doctors and academics from all spectrums of disease areas will be able to benefit from this work. Come and join us and find out.”

Watch a video of Professor Jeremy Nicholson introducing the aims of the programme, its work across the College and Trust and its vision for the future.