Warangal Urban: A young data analyst and pharmacist from Telangana is contributing immensely to a research project on multiple myeloma, a rare type of cancer that affects plasma cells, at the Moffitt Cancer Center, Tampa, Florida in the USA.
Raghunandan Reddy Alugubelli, who belongs to Suryapet district, has been working as senior data analyst on the ‘Ex Vivo Mathematical Myeloma Advisor (EMMA)’ project. The EMMA can test a patient’s sensitivity to dozens of drugs at one time, individually and in combination with one another.
Born to Janaki Reddy Alugubelli and Padmavathi from Aipoor, Suryapet district, 30-year-old Raghunandan Reddy Alugubelli obtained the Master of Science in Management Information Systems from the University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida in 2015. Before joining the MS programme, he completed his B Pharmacy from HKES’s College of Pharmacy, Gulbarga, Karnataka, in 2011.
Raghunandan, who has been working with the Moffitt Cancer Center, a non-profit organisation since August 2018, designed clinical data reports for the EMMA project by data mining and integrating research clinical data from redcap database, electronic medical records data from Oracle SQL database, tissue data from Microsoft SQL database, and drug sensitivity data generated by ex-vivo research experiments on patient’s bone marrow samples.
Speaking to Telangana Today, Raghunandan said that the research clinical data entails most of the components pertinent to the patient such as treatment, demographics, chromosomal abnormality data and diagnosis data. “This integrated data lets researchers answer various research questions for example such as certain patient populations are associated with higher drug resistance. Certain gene sets are associated with drug resistance. So, to draw conclusions from this data- data integration and mining is a crucial step,” he said, adding that this data was utilised in several research papers and presented as abstracts in prestigious conferences such as the American Society of Hematology.
Raghunandan Reddy Alugubelli provides the clinical data mining, data analytics, and data integration efforts for the research platform.
This EMMA tool has been published in Cancer Research Journal, E Bio Medicine journal and resulted in many publications at American Society of Hematology conferences. According to the researchers, the data could help them develop new drugs and therapies for multiple myeloma patients in the future. It could also assist clinicians with designing clinical trials for patients with specific subtypes of the disease.
“Mathematical programmes can dictate multiple myeloma cancer therapy and it is crucial for the patient to get correct therapy or combination of therapies as the cells can become resistant to drugs over time. The EMMA was aimed at providing the right drug to the right patient at the right time by developing the right tools. Each multiple myeloma patient has a bone marrow biopsy before starting treatment. If they would like to participate in EMMA, they can choose to have a portion of their biopsy sent for analysis. It said that the researchers in the EMMA project are testing all the possible therapy options—31 drugs individually and up to 127 different combinations—before a patient is treated in the clinic. EMMA has analyzed more than 600 patient samples with excellent accuracy.
There are roughly 35,000 new cases of multiple myeloma diagnosed each year in the USA alone.
“If hemoglobin levels are low, bones become weak, kidneys fail, infection is detected, people have to suspect multiple myeloma, and consult a medical oncologist or any cancer care centre for the diagnosis and treatment as the early detection will help to extend the life-term for several years,” he added.
Raghunandan worked as the Statistical Data Analyst at University of South Florida, Florida Mental Health Institute Policy and Services Research Data Centre, for the Medicaid Drug Therapy Management Program for Behavioral Health project from August 2016 to March 2018. He along with other researchers published three articles on multiple myeloma in the peer-reviewed journals in the USA, and published abstracts at eight conferences.
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