NIH: Access to RA, lupus disease tissue data now available
The NIH has released datasets from a phase 1 study characterizing individual cells in rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus disease tissue, allowing members of the research community to “explore important research questions about these autoimmune conditions,” according to a press release.
Specifically, the phase 1 study, Accelerating Medicines Partnership for Rheumatoid Arthritis and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (AMP RA/SLE), provides data that identifies differences in the pathways active in the tissue of different patients, which has potential implications for precision medicine, the NIH said.
“The AMP partnership provides a unique opportunity to take a deep dive into the molecular pathways using tissues and blood samples from people living with rheumatoid arthritis and lupus,” Robert H. Carter, MD, PhD, deputy director of the NIH National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), told Healio Rheumatology. “Studying tissues from large numbers of patients with these diseases will help us to develop new medicines and to understand who to treat with what. Studying individual cells from these tissues gives us the chance to see signals that might not be noticed when examining large populations of cells.”
According to the NIH, the researchers focused on individual cells — from the lining of joints in patients with RA, and from kidneys in those with SLE — originating in research cohorts that had well-studied clinical characteristics. By singling out individual cells, the researchers were able to determine the contributions of specific pathways within that may affect the disease.
The resulting data may hold clues for potential research targets that may lead to new treatment options in the future. Its wide availability “expands the search for genes, proteins, biological pathways and other factors that influence these conditions,” per the release. The NIH hopes that researchers mining the data will seek to identify treatment targets to develop medicines for diseases of interest.
“This pioneering program seeks to speed the development of new ways to combat a range of devastating diseases that affect millions of people,” Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD, director of the NIH, said in the release. “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.”
The AMP RA/SLE study is one of three programs the NIH launched in 2014, as part of a public-private partnership to better identify promising biological targets for future treatments, as well as reduce the time and cost required for developing them. The study is comanaged by NIAMS and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).
The Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH) coordinates with the program’s private partners, which include AbbVie, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Merck, Pfizer, Sanofi and Takeda Pharmaceuticals International, as well as nonprofits such as the Arthritis Foundation, the Lupus Foundation of America, the Lupus Research Alliance and the Rheumatology Research Foundation.
The AMP RA/SLE researchers are currently conducting phase 2 studies, which will include a larger cohort of patients with RA and lupus. The phase 1 datasets are available for free at www.immport.org, with genomic information set to be released through the NIH’s database of genotypes and phenotypes, available at www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/gap.
“No single organization has the resources to take on the challenges facing the rheumatoid arthritis and lupus communities,” Maria C. Freire, PhD, president and executive director of the FNIH, said in the release. “AMP brings together government, pharmaceutical and not-for-profit expertise to collaboratively move therapies forward for these autoimmune diseases.” – by Jason Laday
Disclosure: The researchers report funding from the NIH and partnership support from AbbVie, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Merck, Pfizer, Sanofi and Takeda Pharmaceuticals International.