European 3TR Project Unites Experts in Effort to Make Treatment More Personal and Effective

Alice Melão, MSc avatar

by Alice Melão, MSc |

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A new public-private initiative brings academic and industry researchers from 15 European countries together in a large-scale effort to understand differences and commonalities in seven immune-mediated and inflammatory diseases, including multiple sclerosis, so to better predict a patient’s likely response to treatment and likely disease progression.

The project, called 3TR (for Taxonomy, Treatment, Targets, and Remission), will run for seven years. It gives 69 scientific and medical “partners” across a range of disciplines access to clinical data and samples, covering more than 50,000 patients who took part in 50 clinical trials, to identify disease biomarkers of importance to patient management and individualized treatment.

Their goal is to bring a more scientific basis to treatment selection, rather than the “trial and error” approach of clinical trials, one expert said in a press release.

Scientists will also be looking into defining molecular pathways and mechanisms across these seven diseases, and how both might be linked to therapy response and non-response in patients.

In addition to MS, targeted diseases are systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis,  inflammatory bowel disease (including ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease), asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

With funding of €80 million (about $88.71 million) over seven years from the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), a joint European Union and European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations undertaking, the project kicked off at a late October meeting in Granada, Spain.

“This consortium is focused on addressing unmet treatment needs for many of the immunological and inflammatory conditions covered in this initiative,” Frank Nestle, MD, head of research in immunology and inflammation at Sanofi, said in the release. “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.”

Sanofi is the scientific leader of the 3TR project, which the company expects “will bring valuable insights to help in the discovery of more effective treatment options for people living with chronic inflammatory conditions,” Nestle said.

Recent research suggests that these different immune, inflammatory diseases share a number of molecular patterns and treatment response pathways.

“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,” said Marta Alarcón-Riquelme, the scientific coordinator of 3TR and head of medical genomics at the GENYO centre at the Fundación Pública Andaluza Progreso y Salud in Spain.

“We believe that this high-resolution multi-omics profiling analysis of individualized 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,” Alarcón-Riquelme added.

Collected data for the 3TR project is stored in a centralized management platform, so all involved can perform comprehensive bioinformatics and biostatistics analyzes, using advanced machine learning and dynamic assessment methods, the release states.

Medical associations with close ties to patient groups are among 3TR partners, so that discoveries made might be translated more quickly into treatments or exams of use in 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,” said Pierre Meulien, executive director of the IMI.

“This will increase therapeutic success, reduce risks of avoidable side effects in patients unlikely to benefit from the drug they are prescribed, reduce healthcare costs, but above all: improve the patient’s quality of life,” Meulien added.