This project is funded by the UK Research and Innovation’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF).



Over the past 20 years, researchers at the University of Oxford have addressed very important clinical questions by testing various treatment options in managing the most common malignancy in men: prostate cancer.

ProtecT (Prostate testing for cancer and Treatment) is the largest clinical trial of treatment worldwide. The trial enrolled over 80,000 participants, comparing surgery, radiotherapy and active monitoring in prostate cancer patients from 9 centres in the UK, led by investigators at the Universities of Oxford and Bristol, and supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Health Technology Assessment Programme. The results showed that early treatment reduces rates of the disease spreading, but at the cost of over-treating many men with unpleasant side effects. To distinguish men who need treatment from others who could be harmed by interventions, it is critical to undertake long-term research on samples donated by these participants, to understand features that make a cancer ‘aggressive’, requiring urgent treatment.

To optimise this research for scientists everywhere, it is crucial to curate these samples and catalogue all their normal clinical information as well as results from the analysis of their samples in a user-friendly collection, which can be used to mine the information and develop new tests and treatments for the future. This project will develop such a unique sample collection linked to a dynamic database, using latest digital and computer technologies in collaboration with Databiology, with safe provision of ethics, respecting the wishes of the many participants, so that new research can be undertaken.


The ProtecT trial has to date a median of 13-year follow-up. In the study, every participant was asked to donate biological samples including blood products and tissues for research, so that new diagnostic and prognostic tests can be developed, and men with aggressive disease can be treated early.

The collection spans over 80,000 participants in 9 UK centres, and complex data includes the standard clinico-pathological diagnosis and follow-up after treatment. This collection of biosamples is one of the most precious in the world to study the biology of prostate cancer and requires a sophisticated digital platform to optimise the collection and linked data and allow it to be used for future research.


Investigators at the University of Oxford will use the sophisticated digital platform provided by Databiology to allow researchers to share multiple, complex and varied data from different institutions, and advance the understanding of the biology of prostate cancer. The material and linked clinical data are unique, provided by two world-class studies led from the University of Oxford, using the ProtecT and allied ProMPT (Prostate Mechanisms of Progression and Treatment) study data.


The Exemplar will enable an existing cohort with more than 10 years’ follow-up to be tracked, making it the most comprehensive prostate cancer data in the world. The platform could act as a model for other conditions, whereby clinical data including follow-up, the natural history of diseases, effect of interventions, are integrated to information from experimental analyses, to data-mine simultaneously conventional and research findings. This will have a direct impact on the quality of the research undertaken, will speed up findings and the development of new assays and therapeutic manipulations, helping the research community to improve patient outcomes.




Freddie Hamdy

Bridget McMahon