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Autoimmune disease research community gets boost from AMP RA/SLE study results

Posted: 23 February 2018 | | No comments yet

Data from the Phase I study of collaborative industry partnership AMP are now available, meaning scientists can benefit from access to important research about Rheumatoid Arthritis and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus.

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Datasets characterising individual cells in rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus disease tissue from the Accelerating Medicines Partnership for Rheumatoid Arthritis and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (AMP RA/SLE) Phase I study are now available to the research community. Scientists from across the biomedical research community can access the AMP RA/SLE datasets to explore important research questions about these autoimmune conditions.

Commenting on what they hope to achieve from the research programme, National Institutes of Health Director Francis S. Collins, M.D, Ph.D said: “This pioneering programme seeks to speed the development of new ways to combat a range of devastating diseases that affect millions of people.”

“AMP RA/SLE is entering an exciting phase as experts around the world will begin to mine this invaluable biomedical resource in search of tomorrow’s cures.”

This study used state-of-the-art technologies to analyse individual cells from the lining of the joints in people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and the kidneys from people with lupus from research cohorts whose clinical characteristics were well-studied. Other research tools tend to examine signals from across populations of cells, and as such may miss important factors coming from only a few individual cells. By focusing on single cells, researchers can tease out the contributions of specific pathways inside these cells that may play a role in disease, providing a new approach to understanding autoimmunity.

Autoimmune diseases with similar characteristics

RA and lupus are autoimmune diseases that can last a lifetime, cause significant disability, greatly reduce quality of life and are associated with increased risk of early death. These disorders share similar flaws in immune function and regulation, leading to inflammation that damages tissues. People with these conditions need more and better treatments, as some fail to respond to existing therapies.

The newly released information holds clues for potential research targets that may lead to future treatment options. Availability of the data expands the search for genes, proteins, biological pathways and other factors that influence these conditions. Researchers mining the data can seek to identify treatment targets to develop medicines for diseases of interest. The data also has potential implications for precision medicine, as AMP RA/SLE researchers identify differences in the pathways active in the tissue of different patients.

Power of collaboration

The AMP RA/SLE programme is one of three AMP projects launched in 2014 as part of an unprecedented public-private partnership to identify promising biological targets for potential therapeutics and reduce the time and cost of developing them. The NIH’s National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, alongside the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), manages the AMP RA/SLE programme. The Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH) manages the partnership between the NIH and the external partners, which include participating members from industry (AbbVie, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Merck & Co. Inc., Pfizer Inc., Sanofi, and Takeda Pharmaceuticals International Inc.) and non-profit partners (Arthritis Foundation, Lupus Foundation of America, Lupus Research Alliance, and Rheumatology Research Foundation). Within the context of the partnership, industry and non-profit partners are also actively involved in sharing resources and expertise.

“No single organisation has the resources to take on the challenges facing the rheumatoid arthritis and lupus communities,” said Maria C. Freire, Ph.D., president and executive director of the FNIH. “AMP brings together government, pharmaceutical and not-for-profit expertise to collaboratively move therapies forward for these autoimmune diseases.”

The AMP RA/SLE investigators are currently conducting Phase II studies that include a larger cohort of patients with RA and lupus.

The Phase I data are freely available through the NIAID-sponsored Immunology Database and Analysis Portal www.immport.org. Genomic data are also being submitted to be made available through the NIH’s database of Genotypes and Phenotypes www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/gap.

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