Patient data will be at the center of this five-year study, which aims to get to the bottom of asthma’s biological underpinnings.
A new large-scale study aims to leverage big data to make a big step forward in the treatment of asthma.
Researchers from Mount Sinai Health System and the predictive healthcare firm Sema4 are embarking on a five-year study alongside drugmaker Sanofi to gather a robust, data-driven snapshot of the biological factors underlying asthma.
Mount Sinai, Sema4 and Sanofi plan to enroll 1,200 patients with asthma in their study. Those patients will undergo molecular profiling, and subsequent insights will be paired with environmental data generated by sensors and monitors.
Sema4’s founder and CEO, Eric Schadt, Ph.D., said the goal of the project is to collect a broad range of data to tell a more complete story about asthma and its triggers.
“We believe the only way to fully understand asthma is by using sophisticated modeling tools to mine the rich, multidimensional data set we aim to generate in this study,” he said in a press release announcing the partnership. “This approach could reveal entirely new avenues for alleviating and more effectively treating asthma.”
Asthma is believed to affect 350 million people worldwide, causing 400,000 deaths each year. While a range of therapies have been developed to help control asthma and treat patients in the throes of asthma attacks, the disease itself cannot be prevented nor can it be cured, though some children with asthma find the symptoms dissipate as they grow up.
Linda Rogers, M.D., associate professor and clinical director of the Adult Asthma Program at the Mount Sinai — National Jewish Health Respiratory Institute, told Healthcare Analytics News™ that asthma is a fitting subject for a data-centric investigation of this kind.
“Asthma fits well for this type of study, as it is a condition that varies tremendously over time by its nature, including by environmental factors,” she said. “We are hoping that by taking accurate data measurement out of the clinic and into the community, using novel technologies, that we can advance the field.”
For Sanofi, the research represents a new approach to drug development — one that starts with the latest digital health technology.
“Our goal is to develop a holistic view of each patient in the study, which is why we’re excited to add digital technology to the traditional types of medical examinations conducted in this study,” said Frank Nestle, Sanofi’s chief scientific officer for North America, in the press release. “It’s a new way to approach this enormous problem, connecting real-world clinical and scientific data, that we hope will translate into new ways to treat asthma.”
Rogers said many of the details, such as which particular data will be collected and how they will be gathered — whether by mobile phone applications, sensors or other devices — are still being worked out.
Sema4 is a Mount Sinai venture that bills itself as a patient-centered predictive healthcare analytics company. Its current products include prenatal and newborn screening, genetic testing and solid tumor panels.
Mount Sinai has become increasingly active in the health-tech space through its Mount Sinai Innovation Partners branch, which commercializes technology developed by Mount Sinai researchers. Among its other recent successes is Rx.Health, a platform that facilitates the prescribing of therapeutic apps.
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