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Working in haematology research: the RADAR study

Staff at the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust are recruiting participants to take part in the RADAR study, which investigates different treatment options for those with cancer of the bone marrow. 

In this article, Haematology Research Nurse Holly Lawrence explains how the treatment is allocated based on patient genetics in the study and why she works in haematology research.

Talk to your healthcare professional about taking part in research or search for studies seeking volunteers and sign up to be contacted about studies at Be Part of Research.

What is this research study about? 

The RADAR study, which is also known as MYELOMA XV, is a first-line treatment trial for patients with newly diagnosed myeloma, which is cancer of the bone marrow. In this trial, bone marrow and blood samples are analysed in patients who are suitable for stem cell transplants to allocate treatment to patients based on the genetics of the patient's myeloma as well as looking at how individuals have responded to their initial treatment. This is done by looking at small amounts of myeloma cells that may remain present after treatment, known as minimal residual disease. 

What does taking part involve? 

Consenting participants will have bone marrow, blood and urine samples taken at different time points throughout the trial. They will also be asked to complete questionnaires about their quality of life at different time points. 

All patients receive the same initial treatment, called ‘induction’ treatment to get rid of the myeloma cells. Once induction treatment is completed, they then have genetic tests to see whether they are deemed as ‘standard-risk’ or ‘high-risk’. The result of this test, in addition to the participant’s response to induction treatment, impacts which treatment they then go on to receive. 

Patients are allocated different treatment combinations of five possible drugs: lenalidomide, a targeted cancer drug; bortezomib (Velcade), a targeted cancer drug; cyclophosphamide, a chemotherapy drug; dexamethasone, a steroid and isatuximab, an immunotherapy drug.  Patients then go on to have a stem cell transplant using their own stem cells.

After the transplant, patients then receive more treatment to reduce the chances of the myeloma coming back, called consolidation treatment, before starting long-term maintenance treatment to keep the myeloma in remission. 

What motivates you to work in research?

There are lots of things I enjoy about working in research. Having worked in different specialities and roles in research, it is great to see how so many different professionals, patients and the public all have a part to play in making research happen and the work for me never gets boring! I enjoy knowing that I can make a difference on such a wide scale. 

I also love the balance between direct patient care and completing administrative tasks such as data for study analysis. I also find that the time I get to spend with patients in the clinic is more time than I had in other clinical areas and the role allows you to build great rapport with patients and their families as you get to know them quite well over time.

What would you say to people about considering whether to take part in research?

I would recommend speaking to a local healthcare professional, whether that be a hospital, GP surgery or anyone you see in the community and ask what opportunities there are local to you. We want to make sure that everyone is offered the chance to take part in research if you are eligible and would like to do so. I would also say if you are feeling unsure about research or have any questions, never be afraid to ask for more information. Any involvement needs to be right for you and you are our number one priority. If you are not eligible or don’t want to take part in research as a trial participant, there may be other exciting ways that you can get involved in research in your local area. And if you are already taking part in research, then thank you, we couldn’t do this without you!

Visit the Cancer Research UK website for more information about the RADAR study. 

Talk to your healthcare professional about taking part in research or search for studies seeking volunteers and sign up to be contacted about studies at Be Part of Research.