The CNAG-CRG participates in this large-scale public-private research initiative that unites renowned, interdisciplinary experts from 69 academic and industrial partner institutions covering 15 European countries.

Granada/Spain, 29 October, 2019 – Autoimmune, inflammatory and allergic diseases are common chronic diseases that significantly affect the wellbeing of millions of people around the globe and pose a substantial burden to healthcare systems. While different treatments are available, response and disease progression in individual patients remain unpredictable. Currently, still too little is known about the molecular basis underpinning these diseases. In order to be able to better predict treatment response and potentially identify novel biomarkers leading to improved patient management and personalised therapy, a deeper understanding of the cellular mechanisms driving disease development is urgently needed.

In a never-before-seen effort to bring together experts from different medical fields, profiling technologies, systems biology and bioinformatics with specialists from innovative SMEs and leading pharmaceutical companies, 3TR – a public-private partnership project under the IMI umbrella – sets out to fundamentally increase our knowledge of the molecular pathways and mechanisms linked to response and non-response to therapy in seven different immune-mediated, allergic and inflammatory diseases: systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease (incl. ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease), asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Despite their heterogeneity, recent studies have shown that on the molecular level certain patterns are shared by patients across these diseases, thus suggesting they may also share pathways of response to treatment and disease progression.

A groundbreaking approach: integrated, cross-disease analysis

“For the first time, the 3TR team will align and integrate the analysis of autoimmune, allergic, and inflammatory conditions to identify the relationship between longitudinal molecular and microbiome profiles in blood cells and tissues, and disease paths. In a unique approach we will study the seven diseases both in parallel and jointly”, explains Marta Alarcón-Riquelme, scientific coordinator of 3TR and Head of Medical Genomics at the GENYO centre at the Fundación Pública Andaluza Progreso y Salud. “We believe that this high-resolution multi-omics profiling analysis of individualised response to treatment and disease progression will facilitate stratification and identification of molecular patterns that better predict response or non-response to therapy. This comprehensive approach will help identify biomarkers to improve patient management within these diseases.”

Frank Nestle, MD, Sanofi’s head of research in immunology and inflammation, adds: “This consortium is focused on addressing unmet treatment needs for many of the immunological and inflammatory conditions covered in this initiative. 3TR will provide the unique opportunity to investigate a considerable amount of clinical and molecular data across important inflammatory disease categories including treatment responders and non-responders. As scientific project lead of 3TR, Sanofi is confident that this public-private partnership will bring valuable insights to help in the discovery of more effective treatment options for people living with chronic inflammatory conditions.”

Data management and translation into clinics

The CNAG-CRG will contribute to 3TR in two areas, the application of single-cell analysis of patients in the three disease groups and the provision of a database that will host clinical, clinical trial  and omic data for analysis. The 3TR database will leverage on the RD-Connect Genome-Phenome Analysis Platform, developed at the CNAG-CRG, and will extend the collaboration potential with pharmaceutical industry.

All data generated within the project will be gathered on a centralised data management platform. The latter will enable detailed and comprehensive, state-of-the-art bioinformatics and biostatisticseanalyses based on machine learning and dynamic, mechanistic methods. 

By involving medical associations in close relationship with patient groups 3TR will also contribute to swiftly translating relevant knowledge and project outcomes into clinics. “3TR has great potential to transform and significantly enhance the management of patients with chronic inflammatory diseases by introducing a scientific evidence-based rationale for treatment selection, rather than following the traditional trial and error approach. This will increase therapeutic success, reduce risks of avoidable side effects in patients unlikely to benefit from the drug they are prescribed, reduce health care costs, but above all: improve the patient’s quality of life”, underlines Dr Pierre Meulien, Executive Director of the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI).

The 3TR team will officially kick off their activities with a first meeting in Granada, Spain from 30-31 October 2019.

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