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Getting personal: improving the lives of people with skin diseases

picture of Matladi Ndlovu, Patient Value Unit - Immunology
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Matladi Ndlovu, Patient Value Unit - Immunology
People living with inflammatory skin diseases often face a heavy disease burden and may experience significant physical and psychological discomfort, cycling through several therapies before finding an effective treatment. Despite many years of research, there are still significant gaps in the understanding of these diseases. UCB is committed to patients with inflammatory skin diseases, investing in underserved areas and breakthrough solutions that deliver unique outcomes.

To effectively treat people with chronic skin diseases, we must first understand the underlying causes and mechanisms of their symptoms, which in turn point us to who is going to develop severe disease and why. That is the goal of the first collaborative project in dermatology, dedicated to improving the lives of people living with the two most common inflammatory skin conditions: atopic dermatitis and psoriasis.

The BIOMAP (Biomarkers in Atopic Dermatitis and Psoriasis) project, in which UCB will work with 26 academic, five patient organisations and five industry partners , aims to address the main unmet need of why some patients have significant morbidity and an increased risk for associated conditions such as arthritis and asthma, by analysing data from more than 50,000 patients. The project held its first meeting in London on 11-12 April, 2019.

With €20.8 million of funding from the Innovative Medicines Initiative, a major EU public-private partnership, this five-year collaboration will have a broad impact on disease understanding, patient care and future therapies.

The unmet need in dermatology is considerable. Atopic dermatitis and psoriasis affect more than 300 million people worldwide. These inflammatory conditions can affect people’s quality of life and are associated with an increased risk of arthritis and asthma; they are therefore a huge burden to patients families, care-givers and the healthcare system.

However, not all patients experience these conditions in the same way: there is variation in the onset, severity, progression and response to treatment of patients with these diseases.

The big question is why?

Scientists and clinicians working on the BIOMAP project hope to answer this by analysing the largest collection of patient data ever and performing advanced molecular investigations to identify biomarkers for variations in disease outcome.  This important initiative therefore hopes to provide new insights to facilitate early diagnosis and further understanding of disease progression.

The key to our shared success will be collaboration. By bringing together committed researchers with clinical, genetic and epidemiological expertise, and combing this with modern molecular analysis techniques and newly-developed tools in bioinformatics, we hope to move this field forward in the years to come.

If researchers can identify the molecular, genetic and environmental causes of variation in symptoms and disease progression, it may be possible to identify patient subgroups with different subtypes of disease, leading them to respond differently to therapy. That could take us towards a new model for disease classification which paves the way for a more individualised approach to therapy.

“The IMI Biomap consortium is an important initiative which will provide new insights to facilitate early diagnosis and further understanding of disease progression and is a step towards individualizing patient care. UCB is therefore delighted to participate as a partner co-leading several of the Biomap workstreams” said Emmanuel Caeymaex, Head of Immunology and Executive Vice President at UCB.

For more information on IMI Biomap, please check: http://www.biomap-imi.eu.

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