THE EUROPEAN “IMMUNAID” PROJECT FOR RARE AUTOINFLAMMATORY SYSTEMIC DISEASES HAS LAUNCHED ITS CLINICAL STUDY IN GREECE
The ImmunAID project aims to identify new tools for the diagnosis of systemic auto-inflammatory diseases (SAID), and to provide better care and improve the quality of life of SAID patients.
SAID is a group of complex and little-known rare diseases, characterised by strong inflammation as a result of the deregulation of the patient’s innate immune system.
Sometimes it is difficult for the physicians to make a correct diagnosis, since the main symptoms of these diseases (such as fever, rash, joint pain, etc.) are also present in many other conditions. Thus, a patient may have received several inappropriate or ineffective treatments before being properly diagnosed, and this has a great impact on his quality of life.
In order to achieve the project’s objectives, a group of patients suffering from SAID is being recruited throughout Europe. The recruitment campaign has already started in France, Spain, Slovenia, UK, Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands and is now being launched in Greece, at the Laiko Hospital (Dr. Katerina Laskari). Other centres will be opened throughout Europe, with the aim of recruiting a total of approximately 1,000 patients.
An unprecedented huge set of clinical and biological data in the field of SAID
While it is already known that some SAID are caused by specific genetic mutations, other diseases can only be diagnosed by a set of clinical signs and symptoms and after other possible diagnoses have been excluded.
ImmunAID represents a very important tool for researchers to study biological fingerprints or biomarkers specific to SAID.
The biological samples collected from the patients will be analysed by a set of state-of-the-art technologies that will generate a huge amount of ‘omic’ data (genome, transcriptome, proteome and microbiome data) to be studied. Simultaneously, analyses will focus on further molecular candidate mechanisms, involving the inflammasome, lipid mediators and other components of the immune system (cytokines, etc.). All data generated, referred to as “the true SAID immunome”, will be subjected to artificial intelligence and modelling analysis.
The team expects to find common features in all SAID, which will allow to quickly confirm or refute the suspected autoinflammatory syndrome. At the same time, for each SAID, a list of characteristic biomarkers and an algorithm will be generated to allow the physician to make an appropriate diagnostic assessment.
Dr. Laskari describes the project with great enthusiasm as follows “ImmunAID is a unique opportunity for the European scientific community to advance research in a field where patients are still consulting different professionals and undergoing multiple studies for years without reaching a proper diagnosis. We hope that the project will quickly help to provide better care for our patients.”
The ImmunAID project in summary:
ImmunAID is a research project (www.immunaid.eu), which aims to identify a set of disease-specific biomarkers to confirm the diagnosis of SAID. It will also provide a specialized algorithm to refine the disease profile and better estimate the prognosis as well as to develop treatment protocols. Samples from patients across Europe will be analysed using biological techniques, both exploratory and “omic” analyses, as well as other techniques to study specific disease mechanisms based on the already available evidence. The results will be integrated with each other and classified later using artificial intelligence methodologies to conclude on a new categorisation of SAID. ImmunAID is implemented by a large consortium (25 partners in 12 European countries) and has been funded with € 15.8 million by the European Commission.
The ImmunAID project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under Grant Agreement No. 779295.