Precision Medicine to Treat IBD Might Be Closer Than We Thought

According to a story from Sano Genetics, Sano Genetics, BenevolentAI, C4X Discovery, and Patients Know Best expect only the most from their novel collaboration. Together, they are pooling top expertise and tools in genetics, research, AI, and patient networking to build a database like none seen before for patients with ulcerative colitis.
With the help of a £330k grant provided by the British government’s Innovate UK, the firms designed the project to incorporate patient expertise, using their input and decision making throughout the project to keep patients in conversation with researchers. The research team and AI will then sift through the deep data in search of drug targets—molecules that are key in the functioning of ulcerative colitis (UC). The doctors will use then use these key molecules to develop precision medicine unique to the needs of the UC patients.

Ulcerative Colitis

Ulcerative colitis is one of the two major types of inflammatory bowel disease, known for its chronic sores and ulcers on the large intestine. While the inflammatory disease is chronic, often patient’s only begin to notice symptoms once it has progressed. While experiences vary, common symptoms include fatigue, weight loss, bloody stool, loose bowels, nausea, anemia, cramps, joint pain, and rashes. It can be treated symptomatically with different antibiotics, biologics, aminosalicylates, and more, with surgery to remove the colon in the most severe cases. While treatments can help patients reach remission, there is no cure.
Cases of inflammatory bowel disease are increasingly common with almost six million cases now worldwide. This is something Sano Genetics CEO Patrick Short wanted to address, but the complexity of the diseases makes finding a one size fits all treatment near impossible. So now, they’re looking for new routes towards relief. Short said,
“As the prevalence of IBD continues to increase, personalised approaches to early detection, treatment, and management are becoming ever more important. “
Finding personalized medicines is no small task though, it requires an enormous amount of data. Together, the companies are joining their AI and research experience to form the Taxonomy3 Platform, a uniquely rich and comprehensive database made up of information from electronic medical records, questionnaires, and genetic and transcriptomic data.
The firms designed the project aiming to create a dialogue between the patients and researchers, allowing for patients to play a bigger role in drug creation. As patients upload their information to the platform, they’re given the power to decide who can access their data and how, and the platform keeps them updated on relevant research opportunities and potential experimental drugs.
Finding Drug Targets
The data will be analyzed by AI and researchers, hoping to find hidden contributors to the inflammatory disease that might be used as drug targets—the key molecules used in designing medicines. This is important for UC research, since many patients have unique subtypes of symptom displays, making treatment difficult. The Chief Scientific Officer of C4X Discovery, Craig Fox said,
“Identifying the right drug target for the right patient is a major but challenging goal for drug discovery, particularly for diseases with significant pathophysiological heterogeneity such as ulcerative colitis.”
However, their collaboration could pave the way to novel insights. He explained,
“Our proprietary Taxonomy3 platform will analyze the datasets produced from this research to identify novel drug targets and patient subtypes of UC which may provide a powerful insight into discovering new treatments and enrichment strategies for clinical success.”
As the field of research around rare diseases grows, it’s become clear that treatment might mean treatments made just for the patient receiving it. The companies recognize the only way to get there is to join forces. They hope with time, their collaboration will find answers for UC patients and beyond.

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