MedBioinformatics EU project launched
Under Horizon 2020, the EU has funded the 3.5 million project MedBioinformatics. This project aims to develop bioinformatics tools and applications for analysing the huge amount of data and knowledge generated in healthcare and biomedical research in order to facilitate translational research and precision medicine. The call was very competitive, only 6% of the projects submitted were eventually funded.
The project started on 1st of May and the kick-off meeting was held in Barcelona, May 19-20. Tero Aittokallio, Jing Tang and Zia ur Rehman from FIMM participated in the kick-off meeting.
The applications that will be developed in the MedBioinformatics project will focus on two key medical specialties, oncology and neuropsychiatry, which have a big impact on the health and welfare of the population. Identifying the bioinformatics needs of these two specialties will facilitate the identification and design of applications that will meet the needs of biomedical professionals from other areas. Among the applications to be developed there is a new generation of tools to study the relationship between genotype and phenotype, a browser of disease biomarkers, tools to analyse and predict comorbidities, and applications to support molecular diagnostics and personalized treatment of cancer. To accomplish its objectives, MedBioinformatics has assembled a multidisciplinary team made up of bioinformatics and translational and clinical researchers.
The MedBioinformatics team in Barcelona. Picture: Maria Saarela
According to Prof. Ferran Sanz, director of the IMIM-UPF Research Programme on Biomedical Informatics (GRIB) and coordinator of this project, "Most potential users, i.e. translational researchers and health professionals, do not have adequate tools to efficiently exploit this large and heterogeneous amount of information. So far, efforts to develop bioinformatics methods and tools have not produced the expected impact in healthcare environments."
“This is primarily due to two reasons. On one hand, the lack of integrative strategies that effectively combine the diverse types of data that are available in different repositories around the world. On the other hand, there is a lack of involvement of end users during the process of creating applications to identify the information they really need and to present it in the most appropriate format. We must develop applications that integrate, analyse and show biomedical information in a way that is immediately understandable and useful to end users", Prof. Sanz added.
FIMM’s role in this pan-European project is to develop bioinformatic tools that help personalized treatment optimization for cancer patients; in particular, prediction of such synergistic drug combinations that effectively inhibit multiple nodes of cancer survival networks. The implemented tools will be iteratively tested and improved through an active collaboration with translational researchers at FIMM and clinical practitioners at the Helsinki University Central Hospital (HUCH), with the aim to suggest effective treatment options for adult Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). The specific focus will be on treatment‐refractory AML patients, who have less than 10% long‐term survival expectation, and who desperately need more effective, next‐line combination treatment alternatives.
Dr. Jing Tang and Dr. Tero Aittokallio presenting. Picture: Zia ur Rehman
"There is a pressing need for systematic approaches and tools that enable translational researchers and clinical practitioners to prioritize the most potent multi-target alternatives for each individual cancer patient", says Dr. Jing Tang, Senior Researcher at FIMM, who developed the concept of target inhibition network model for the identification of selective drug target combinations, which will be applied and further developed in this project.
"This approach has a tremendous potential to suggest such drug combinations that can target the cancer networks through synergistic and synthetic lethal interactions", says Dr. Tero Aittokallio, the FIMM PI of the project. “The ongoing AML personalized medicine study at FIMM/HUCH provides us with a unique possibility to translate the developed tools and their treatment predictions into patient treatments at the clinic”, added Aittokallio.
The MedBioinformatics Project (full title: Creating medically-driven integrative bioinformatics applications focused on oncology, CNS disorders and their comorbidities) is funded with approximately 3.5 million Euro granted by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme 2014‐2020, coordinated by Prof. Ferran Sanz from IMIM and carried out by 9 leading European research institutions and SMEs.
MedBioinformatics started the 1st May 2015, with a duration of 36 months.
More information on MedBioinformatics will be soon available here: www.medbioinformatics.eu
The full list of participating institutions is:
Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute in Barcelona (Spain)
University of Copenhagen (Denmark)
European Bioinformatics Institute, part of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (UK)
Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland, University of Helsinki (Finland)
University of Oxford (UK)
BMD Software Lda. (Portugal)
Universitat Pompeu Fabra (Spain)
Vall d´Hebron Institute of Oncology (Spain)
Synapse Research Management Partners S.L. (Spain)
For more information, contact:
Dr. Tero Aittokallio (Project Principal Investigator, FIMM)
Tel: +358 50 318 2426
Prof. Ferran Sanz (Project Scientific Coordinator, PSMAR-IMIM)
Tel: +34 933 160 524
Mr. Ángel Honrado (Project Manager, SYNAPSE)
Tel: +34 933 006 061