PRIME Minister David Cameron spoke movingly about his son Ivan, who died in 2009 from a rare disease, as he launched a new £90m initiative in Oxford that could revolutionise drug treatments.

He attended the opening on Friday of the Li Ka Shing Centre for Health Information and Discovery, which will house 600 scientists at the university’s Old Road campus.

Mr Cameron’s six-year-old son suffered from Ohtahara syndrome, which is a rare form of epilepsy.

Being shown around the first phase of the centre, the Target Discovery Institute, which will house research generating data about disease, he said: “As I walked around the laboratory I met a young researcher, she said she was running genetic data – DNA tests – against a very unknown disease, a syndrome called Ohtahara syndrome, which is what my son Ivan suffered from.

“I will never forget when we were first told of the diagnosis of a desperately ill and disabled child.

“Then when you want to know more about it, there’s very little that we know. It’s one of the many parts of medical science where we have huge breakthroughs still to make.”

The second phase of the centre, the Big Data Institute, will develop analysis of large sets of patient data, to improve understanding of diseases and treatments.

Professor Andrew Hamilton, the vice-chancellor of the university, said: “Big Data will transform the way we treat patients and understand disease in the coming decades.”