Data mining could lead to therapy advances

Nov 14, 2016 | Lupus, Lupus 2020, News, Products


In the past 50 years, only one new therapy has been approved for the treatment of lupus.

Peter E. Lipsky, MD

Peter E. Lipsky, MD, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of AMPEL BioSolutions, Charlottesville, VA, works to change that, and he will discuss his efforts during the Clinical Science symposium Mining Big Data for Drug Repurposing.

The symposium will take place from 11:00 am – 12:00 pm on Tuesday in room 146A and will demonstrate the potential role of genetics and data mining strategies in identifying new or repurposed therapeutic targets for systemic autoimmune rheumatic diseases.

“Lupus has not been one of our great triumphs,” Dr. Lipsky said. “There’s a clear, unmet clinical need for more treatment options. All of the research that has been done throughout the years hasn’t generated new ideas or treatments, so we must look elsewhere.”

During his lecture, “Meta-Analysis of Gene Expression Data Sets to Identify Novel Molecular Pathways and Drug Targets in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus,” he will introduce attendees to the potential role of bioinformatics and how this burgeoning area is generating new insights into mechanisms that may potentially generate new treatments.

Dr. Lipsky co-founded AMPEL BioSolutions, a biomedical research consulting firm that specializes in translational and personalized medicine, including drug and target identification and bioinformatic analysis.

“These have become very important tools in developing new treatments in the oncology world,” Dr. Lipsky said. “Mining literature and detailed analyses have led to the development of very specific therapies for cancer treatment. Many of these targeted therapies are highly successful when used in specific subsets of patients. When you find the right combination of patient and treatment, you have very high success rates.”

Dr. Lipsky said he hoped the same strategies that have proven successful in oncology could be applied successfully to rheumatic diseases.

“It’s exciting to be able to take publically available data and analyze them in detail to find the appropriate pathways to target,” he said. “This is just the beginning of this field, and it’s hard to know where it’s going to take us, but the potential is great. Using big data analysis tools lets the biology speak to us. Specific disease signatures emerge, and we hope the identification of new pathways and targets will follow.”

Robert Plenge, MD, PhD

The symposium will also include a lecture by Robert Plenge, MD, PhD, Vice President and Head of Translational Medicine at Merk & Co., Boston. Dr. Plenge will present “Human Genetics for Drug Discovery and Repurposing.”

In his role as leader of translational medicine, Dr. Plenge and his colleagues work to identify novel targets and pathways based on causal human biology, including genetics.

As part of his lecture, Dr. Plenge will outline the application of genetic approaches to drug discovery, and beyond that, he will review the complexity and cost of drug research and development.

“We need to improve the productivity of drug research and development,” he said. “Human genetics and related approaches could help.”

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