Science and technology company Merck and Project Data Sphere are set to collaborate to jointly lead the Global Oncology Big Data Alliance (GOBDA).

The GOBDA initiative has been formed to expand the open access of de-identified patient data sets in order to improve analytical capabilities by building on Project Data Sphere’s new digital platform.

Access to the existing platform contains clinical trial data from almost 100,000 patients provided by multiple organisations, and has already led to new and potentially practice-changing findings.

Merck executive board member and healthcare CEO Belén Garijo said: “The ultimate goal of our alliance with Project Data Sphere is to unleash the power of big data to bring value to cancer patients.

“Merck is deeply committed to investing in initiatives that push the boundaries of cancer research, that we hope will accelerate the discovery, development and delivery of innovative treatments to all who need it.”

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"The ultimate goal of our alliance with Project Data Sphere is to unleash the power of big data to bring value to cancer patients."

The new initiative is set to expand this platform to include a rare tumour trial, experimental arm and real-life patient data.

By leveraging the data with big data analytics, clinical trials can be optimised, a registry of data can be built and advancement is possible in the understanding of cancer treatment globally.

Additionally, institutes and industry will unleash analytical power and large data to study and learn how to better manage rare but serious immune-mediated adverse events and will be able to assist regulators to adapt these new learnings into treatment guidelines.

Since 2014, Merck has awarded a total of €4m to further research in oncology through the Grant for Oncology Innovation award, which has engaged more than 1,000 investigators worldwide.

Image: Signing of a memorandum of understanding for GOBDA. Photo: courtesy of Merck KGaA.