First Large-scale Clinical Genomic Research Study Aims to Improve Personalized MS Treatment

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by Santiago Gisler |

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A collaboration between DNAnexus, the Sutter Health network, and the University Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) aims to improve personalized medicine in multiple sclerosis (MS) through the first large-scale clinical genomic research study, the companies announced.

The network has the goal of improving screening, diagnosis, and treatment of complex diseases like MS by collecting large-scale clinical data.

The genomic study will analyze anonymous data provided by scientists at the Sutter Health Center for Precision Medicine, a not-for-profit health system,  from more than 3,000 MS patients using the DNAnexus Apollo Platform.

“Collaborating with DNAnexus allows access to cutting-edge bioinformatics tools to better understand our clinically meaningful ‘big data.’” Gregory Tranah, PhD, director of Sutter’s Center for Precision Medicine, said in a press release.

“This is an important step to advance precision medicine efforts across Sutter and, ultimately, to improve treatments for people with MS in our community and the millions of people affected with the disease worldwide,” Tranah added.

The first phase of the study will include electronic health record data, patient-reported outcomes, imaging data, and blood samples from 500 MS patients, starting in May. The study also will incorporate data on patients’ whole-exome sequencing — sequencing data limited to the protein-coding fragment of the DNA (the exomes) — performed by the UPMC and analyzed by researchers at DNAnexus.

The combined data will serve to assess clinical and genomic features that are associated with MS subtypes, symptoms, disability progression, and response to therapies, among others.

“Our fully automated, CLIA/CAP-certified center provides the environment to generate high-quality genomic data for Sutter Health and its patients,” said Annerose Berndt, PhD. Berndt is vice president of Clinical Genomics and director of the UPMC Genome Center.

The study provides DNAnexus the information needed to launch the so-called Clinico-Genomic Data Solution program, which will offer high-quality data sets that are specific for MS.

“With its diverse patient population and powerful EHR [electronic health record] data on long-term MS patients, the team at Sutter Health is poised to lead this next era of precision medicine for MS,” said ichard Daly, CEO of DNAnexus. “We are looking forward to working with Sutter and UPMC on this MS study and other real-world data projects for additional complex disorders in the future.”

The network supports precision medicine (treatment based on genetic features associated with the disease) and drug discovery programs at renowned research institutes, hospitals, and pharmaceutical companies, using the DNAnexus Apollo Platform.

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