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Trials, Registry Planned for Wound Care Device

MRSA bacteria

MRSA bacteria (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases)

27 March 2017. A company making products for healing wounds is studying the ways one of its dressings is used in the field, to better understand the product’s role in wound care. In this project, Organogenesis Inc. in Canton, Massachusetts is beginning two clinical studies and a patient registry to learn these details.

Organogenesis, a spin-off enterprise from MIT in the 1980s, develops bioactive wound care products that the company says are designed as much for regenerative medicine as emergency care. The product reviewed in this project is PuraPly AM, containing purified collagen derived from pigs, combined with an antimicrobial chemical. PuraPly is applied as a dressing to treat chronic wounds, such as venous and diabetic skin ulcers, as well as acute surgical and trauma wounds. PuraPly is cleared as a medical device by FDA, based on preclinical studies and case-study reports, but still lacking systematic clinical evidence.

Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body, found in bones and soft tissue, such skin and tendons. While the body makes collagen on its own, for wound care it provides a natural scaffold for tissue repair and regeneration. The antimicrobial ingredient in PuraPly is polyhexamethylene biguanide, or PHMB, added as a coating to the collagen to prevent formation of bacterial biofilms and further infections.

PHMB affects bacterial cells differently from mammalian cells, where the chemical enters bacterial cells and binds with its DNA, while with mammalian tissue, the chemical is kept out of the cells’ nuclei where DNA resides. As a result, says Organogenesis, PHMB does not have toxic effects on human cells as some silver-based topical antimicrobials, nor is it susceptible to an acquired resistance. The company cites lab tests where PuraPly reduced concentrations of a number of bacterial samples, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, a difficult  “superbug” resistant to many antibiotics, and associated with infections contracted in health care facilities.

The new clinical trials conducted by Organogenesis aim to better understand the ways health care facilities are using PuraPly and their healing outcomes. The first trial at the Wound Healing Center at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola, New York is recruiting 100 adults with wounds treatable with PuraPly. The second trial, at Northwell Health in Lake Success, New York, is recruiting 40 participants, also with acute and chronic wounds treatable with PuraPly.

Participants in both trials will be tracked for 12 weeks to determine the extent of wound healing that occurs, with measurements of new tissue generation and wound closure, as well as bacterial formation in the wounds while they heal. Harold Brem, who heads Winthrop-University’s wound healing center says in an Organogenesis statement, “Up until now, we’ve seen encouraging case studies showing individual patient results following treatment with PuraPly AM,” but noting that the “prospective research program will provide wound care clinicians with important clinical data regarding how PuraPly AM is utilized in various wound types and the associated clinical outcomes.”

In addition, Organogenesis is starting a registry of 300 patients treated with PuraPly to track their experiences with the dressings. The initiative, known as Real-World Effectiveness Study of PuraPly AM On Wounds, or Respond Registry, will gather information on participants’ wound healing progress, as well as their experiences with pain, impact on quality of life, and any effects on economic outcomes.

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T-Cell Therapy Trial Begins for Autoimmune Diseases

Nektar Therapeutics lab

Nektar Therapeutics lab in San Francisco (Nektar Therapeutics)

27 March 2017. A biotechnology company began testing on humans an experimental drug to increase healthy T-cells in the immune system for people with autoimmune disorders. The early-stage study is testing the safety, dosage levels, and chemical activity in the body of a biologic drug code-named NKTR-358 by its developer, Nektar Therapeutics, in San Francisco.

Autoimmune diseases are disorders that arise from an erroneous immune response aimed at healthy cells and tissues in the body, instead of invading pathogens from outside. Examples of autoimmune disorders are type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, psoriasis, Crohn’s disease, and multiple sclerosis. American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association cites data from National Institutes of Health estimating 23.5 million people in the U.S. suffer from autoimmune diseases, but the organization believes the actual number may be more than twice as high.

According to Nektar, most current treatments for autoimmune disorders are designed to suppress the immune system overall, which can have serious undesired side effects. The company instead is developing NKTR-358 to balance the overabundance of effector T-cells, white blood cells in the immune system, programmed to immediately react to perceived invaders, with more regulatory T-cells to help control over-reactions to immune-system threats.

Nektar develops treatments that combine polymer chemistry with active biological agents to control their targeting, distribution, and activity in the body, in what the company calls polymer drug conjugates. NKTR-358 aims to promote production of regulatory T-cells to correct the imbalance with auto-reactive effector T-cells, and restore the body’s self-tolerance mechanisms in people with autoimmune diseases. The company says its preclinical studies show NKTR-358 can suppress skin inflammation caused by immune-system reactions, and reduce indicators of lupus progression in lab mice.

The company is designing NKTR-358 as a self-administered injection given once or twice a month. The clinical trial is recruiting 50 healthy individuals to test the safety of NKTR-358 and its chemical activity in the body. The trial is also testing various dosage levels, with the goal of determining safe doses for future studies of NKTR-358 among people with autoimmune diseases.

The first trial of NKTR-358 in people with autoimmune diseases is expected to take place in the second half of 2017, a study of the drug among individuals with systemic lupus erythematosus, the full name for lupus. In this case, the autoimmune disease leads to inflammation in the joints, skin, and other organs including heart, lungs, and kidneys. Lupus is more common in women than men, mainly affecting people between the ages of 10 and 50.

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Challenge Seeks GI Tract Drug Delivery in Animals

Cattle

(Stefanie Drenkow-Lolies, Pixabay)

24 March 2017. A new challenge offered through InnoCentive is aiming for solutions to protect biological drugs delivered into the gastrointestinal, or GI, tract of animals. The competition has a total prize purse of $20,000 and a deadline for submissions of 22 May 2017.

The challenge is conducted by InnoCentive in Waltham, Massachusetts that conducts open-innovation, crowdsourcing competitions for corporate and organization sponsors. In this case, the sponsor is anonymous. Free registration is required to see details of the competition.

The challenge sponsor requires a method for delivery of biological drug molecules, such as proteins and peptides, for animals in their feed, to be released in the animals’ GI tracts. Getting biologic therapies to the GI tract, however, is difficult, due to the chemical conditions encountered along the way, such as low pH and digestive enzymes, that can alter the nature of the treatments.

In addition, stability of biologic drugs can be affected by heat, as well as manufacturing and storage conditions that degrade biological molecules. As a result, the sponsor is seeking solutions that protect the integrity and activity of biological therapies designed for delivery to the GI tracts of animals.

InnoCentive calls this type of competition, a theoretical-licensing challenge that requires submission of a written proposal. In a theoretical challenge, participants generally describe an idea still in development and not yet reached the proof-of-concept stage. Proposals often contain detailed descriptions, specifications, and requirements for bringing the idea closer to fruition as an actual product or service.

The sponsor expects to ask for non-exclusive rights to the ideas proposed by the winning entries, due by 22 May 2017. While the competition has a total purse of $20,000, the sponsor has not yet announced the number or amounts of prizes to be awarded.

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Genetic Techniques Speed Brain, Muscle Cell Production

Induced pluripotent stem cells

Induced pluripotent stem cells reprogrammed from human skin (California Institute for Regenerative Medicine)

24 March 2017. A new technology targets the expression of genes in stem cells to produce specific brain and muscle cells on demand and in a few days, a fraction of the time now required. A team from University of Cambridge and Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, also in Cambridge, U.K. describes the technology the 23 March issue of the journal Stem Cell Reports.

Researchers led by Cambridge neuroscience professor Mark Kotter are seeking faster and more reliable methods for producing functioning human cells from stem cells for research and eventually treatments. Current methods for inducing human pluripotent stem cells — the type of stem cells that can transform into almost type of tissue — into brain and muscle cells take from 3 to 20 weeks, say the authors. And techniques for altering the genes in the stem cells use lentiviruses, benign viruses to deliver modified or healthy genes to the cells, which the authors say are imprecise, and can cause complications and require further purification steps.

Kotter and colleagues devised a different approach for producing functioning cells from stem cells, which they call OPTi-OX, short for OPTimised inducible OvereXpression. This technology induces the expression of proteins known as transcription factors that transcribe, or convert, genetic codes in DNA into instructions in RNA for cells to function. Their process adapts techniques from gene therapy that seek out genomic safe harbors for delivery of healthy genes, but in this case to induce the expression of genes to produce many copies of functioning cells.

OPTi-OX works by reprogramming human embryonic stem cells to produce uniform functioning cells in large quantities. The reprogramming process is critical, since OPTi-OX is designed as a platform technology, where the precise genetic engineering of the stem cells determines the transcription factors and nature of the functioning cells being produced. The researchers envision canned genetic programs called cassettes inserted into stem cell genomes to produce large numbers of human cells on demand.

In the paper, the Cambridge and Wellcome Trust Sanger team produced neurons or nerve cells found in the brain, as well as oligodendrocytes, or “white matter” cells that support brain functions. The researchers also produced skeletal muscle cells called myocytes. The OPTi-OX platform made it possible for researchers to adjust and refine the programming to produce these working human cells from stem cells in 5 to 10 days.

Production of oligodendrocytes by the team is considered particularly important because of the cells’ key roles in a number of neurological disorders, with promising therapeutic applications. But more immediate applications of OPTi-OX are high-throughput drug screens and toxicology testing performed as part of drug discovery.

“Neurons produced in this study are already being used to understand brain development and function,” says Kotter in a joint statement. “This method opens the doors to producing all sorts of hard-to-access cells and tissues so we can better our understanding of diseases and the response of these tissues to newly developed therapeutics.”

The institutions filed for patent protection on the OPTi-OX technology. In addition, Kotter and Cambridge entrepreneur Gordana Apic founded the company Elpis BioMed to commercialize the technology. The start-up enterprise, incorporated in November 2017, aims to become a supplier of functioning cells for academic research and drug discovery.

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Regeneron to Sequence 500K UK Biobank Genomes

Genomics graphic

(National Human Genome Research Institute, NIH)

23 March 2017. A biotech company and health database center are partnering with drug maker GlaxoSmithKline to produce genomic data on 500,000 individuals for drug discovery. Regeneron Genetics Center in Tarrytown, New York will sequence the genomes of participants in the UK Biobank, for researchers at Regeneron and GSK to identify insights and targets for new therapies, with the first data made publicly available after 9 months.

GSK and Regeneron plan to take advantage of findings from the study to improve the odds of finding effective medicines against disease. The companies cite data showing 90 percent of experimental drugs fail to advance past clinical trials testing new therapies for safety and efficacy, due in many cases to a failure to understand the complete connections between the drugs and the molecular nature of the diseases they treat. Medications developed with this understanding, say the companies, have higher success rates.

Regeneron Genetics Center is a subsidiary of the biotechnology company Regeneron that applies high-throughput genomic sequencing to discovery of new treatments. The center sequences exomes, that cover the exons, or protein coding regions of the human genome. Exomes account for only a small percentage of base pairs in the genome, but they represent about 85 percent of all disease causing mutations. The Regeneron center then matches results of the whole exome sequencing to de-identified medical records, with more than 150,000 of those records now stored.

In this collaboration, Regeneron will conduct genetic sequencing of the 500,000 volunteers in the U.K. Biobank membership. U.K. Biobank, in Stockport, stores health and wellness data of the volunteers, including blood and other specimens, for medical research studies by academic labs and industry. The organization says its data are used for diagnostics and treatment of a wide range of diseases, including, cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and arthritis, as well as depression and some forms of dementia. All of the data provided to researchers have personal identification removed.

Under the agreement, Regeneron and GSK will sequence the genomes of 50,000 individuals sampled from the U.K. Biobank volunteers, with the companies committing undisclosed funding for the analysis. Regeneron and GSK will have first access to the data, with the analysis completed by the end of 2017, and the results provided back to U.K. Biobank after 9 months. The partners say the findings will also be submitted for publication in scientific journals.

Sequencing of the remaining 450,000 UK Biobank participants is expected to take 3 to 5 years. But even with data from 50,000 individuals, it’s possible to derive meaningful results.

As reported by Science & Enterprise in December 2016, Regeneron Genetics Center analyzed genetic data from 50,726 clients of the Geisinger Health System in Pennsylvania, which when combined with data from electronic health records, revealed that a segment of the Geisinger population tested has familial hypercholesterolemia, a blood disorder causing high cholesterol levels. When compared to data in electronic health records, the findings show only about a quarter of the records offer any indication of familial hypercholesterolemia, which suggests their conditions would have gone unnoticed without results from genetic tests.

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Univ. Spin-Off Developing Non-Toxic Bedbug Killer

Bedbug

Bedbug (Giovani Bellicanta, Pennsylvania State University)

23 March 2017. Research from a lab at Pennsylvania State University led to a technology for controlling bedbug infestations with natural enemies that are harmless to humans. A team led by Penn State agricultural entomologist Nina Jenkins published results from a lab test of its biopesticide in the 20 March issue of the journal Pest Management Science, and started a company to take the product to market.

Jenkins and colleagues from Penn State in University Park and North Carolina State University in Raleigh are seeking new methods for controlling bedbugs, a scourge affecting homes and hotels, as well as a public health hazard in the U.S. and worldwide for decades. Chemical insecticides were once effective against bedbugs, but in recent years bedbugs developed a resistance to broad-spectrum chemical insecticides. Raising room temperatures, an alternative method for chasing away bedbugs, can be expensive; the authors cite data estimating the cost of this technique at $500 to $1,000 per room.

Even with effective chemicals, stopping bedbugs is a difficult and time-consuming task. “They’re hiding in little cracks and crevices,” says Jenkins in a university statement, who adds controlling the pest, “involves collecting all of your clothing and laundering everything, keeping in it plastic bags, and reducing all of your clutter, so that a pest controller can actually apply the chemicals to the areas where the bedbugs may be.”

The Penn State/North Carolina State team is taking a different approach to stopping bedbugs, unleashing a natural adversary that’s also harmless to humans. That bedbug opponent is a fungus known as Beauveria bassiana that infects bedbugs and causes them to die within 7 days. Spores from Beauveria bassiana stick to the bedbugs, then germinate and colonize in the bugs’ bodies. Bedbugs also can spread the fungi spores to other bedbugs, magnifying their impact; only a fraction of a bedbug colony needs to be exposed to the fungi for an entire colony to be treated.

In their study, the researchers tested a bioinsecticide product made from Beauveria bassiana against deltamethrin, a commercial insecticide used to control bedbugs, among other pests. The team tested the treatments against 3 strains of bedbugs both susceptible and resistant to chemical insecticides. The researchers found the mortality rate for resistant bedbugs exposed to deltamethrin ranges from 16 to 40 percent. For bedbugs exposed to the Beauveria bassiana product, the mortality rate jumps to 94 percent.

The fungal bedbug treatments have the brand name Aprehend for which Penn State’s technology transfer office applied for a patent. Aprehend is sprayed on surfaces as a barrier treatment, applied quarterly to prevent bedbug infestations from occurring. Jenkins and postdoctoral researcher Giovani Bellicanta started the company ConidioTec that licenses the rights to the technology and is taking Aprehend to market.

Jenkins and Bellicanta are taking advantage of the new Invent Penn State program to get ConidioTec off the ground, which includes grant funding for regulatory approvals and legal help for entrepreneurs. “We were really lucky because Invent Penn State came along at just the right time,” says Jenkins. “We’ve been able to tap into all of these amazing resources, and just the general atmosphere and attitude within the university toward helping entrepreneurs and promoting entrepreneurship has helped carry us to this point.”

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Inhaled Drug Shown Feasible for Postpartum Bleeding

Oxytocin inhaler

Oxytocin inhaler (Monash University)

22 March 2017. Results from a clinical trial show a dry-powder inhaled form of the drug oxytocin works in the body much like the injected form, given to prevent postpartum hemorrhage, excessive bleeding in some women after childbirth. A team from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia and drug-maker GlaxoSmithKline in Cambridge, U.K. reported its findings on 21 March at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists World Congress in Cape Town, South Africa.

The authors cite data showing some 300,000 women die each year from complications of childbirth and pregnancy, with postpartum hemorrhage accounting for 20 percent of maternal deaths. Some bleeding in the uterus is expected during childbirth, as the placenta separates from the uterus. In about 6 percent of births, however, bleeding becomes excessive, which in many cases can be prevented with an injection of the oxytocin.

The drug oxytocin is a hormone and neurotransmitter released by the pituitary gland in the brain that, among other things, contracts muscles in the uterus and helps restrict blood flow. While injected forms of oxytocin are widely available in developed countries, the drug requires refrigeration and trained clinicians to administer. In lower-resource regions, however, these conditions are not often met, making oxytocin less available for mothers, and increasing their risk of postpartum hemorrhage.

Researchers from the Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences at Monash and GlaxoSmithKline developed a dry-powder form of oxytocin that can be taken in measured doses with an inhaler, like an asthma treatment. As a powder, the drug remains usable at varying temperatures, thus not needing refrigeration.

The early-stage clinical trial recruited 16 women volunteers in the U.K., age 18 to 45, for the trial that aimed to determine if the inhaled form of oxytocin worked like the injections. Participants were randomly assigned to receive either an injection of oxytocin, 1 of 4 dosage levels of inhaled oxytocin powder, or a placebo.

The research team looked for indicators of the inhaled drug’s safety, such as reports of respiratory and other adverse effects, as well as blood cell counts and the presence of proteins, ketones or metabolized fat, and glucose in urine samples. The researchers also took electrocardiograms and measured vital signs including blood pressure, pulse, and heart rates.

The team likewise took multiple daily blood samples each day for 4 days for indicators of chemical activity of the drug in participants. The measures included concentrations of oxytocin in plasma from injected and inhaled forms of the drug.

The results show for the 15 women completing the study, no serious adverse effects, nor any clinically significant safety issues were reported. In addition, the concentration profiles of oxytocin in blood plasma were similar for injected and inhaled forms of the drug, which suggest inhaled doses can deliver oxytocin to women as effectively as injections.

Pharmaceutical scientist Michelle McIntosh, who led the Monash part of the research team, says in a university statement, the findings should allow inhaled oxytocin to be available sooner than usual. “These results show that oxytocin can be delivered similarly via inhalation or injection,” notes McIntosh, “and therefore we are less likely to be required to conduct the extensive and costly trials needed for an entirely new drug.

“Instead, we should be able to move forward with trials on a much smaller scale, featuring patients numbering in the hundreds rather than tens of thousands, potentially making the medicine available much sooner.”

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Protein IDed to Cut Implanted Device Immune Reactions

Macrophage cell

Macrophage cell, in blue, blocked from forming into scar tissue. (Felice Frankel, Mass. Institute of Technology)

20 March 2017. Researchers identified a protein playing a key role in promoting the scar tissue that forms from immune reactions to implanted medical devices. A team from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Boston Children’s Hospital shows in tests with lab animals that blocking actions of this protein can prevent scar tissue from forming on materials often used with medical implants.

In an article appearing 20 March in the journal Nature Materials (paid subscription required), researchers from the MIT labs of chemical engineering professors Robert Langer and Daniel Anderson sought to better understand the process causing immune reactions to medical implants. Anderson’s lab in particular is developing an implanted device to perform the functions of the pancreas, monitoring glucose levels and pumping insulin, for people with type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune condition affecting 5 to 10 percent of individuals with diabetes.

The team analyzed the general or innate immune functions as well as reactions of the immune system to specific foreign substances like those found in implanted devices. They traced the formation of scar tissue to a type of white blood cell in the immune system known as macrophages that are formed from precursor cells called monocytes. When tissue damage, infection, or foreign substances appear, monocytes transform into macrophages to become the first line of defense against these disruptions.

A key ingredient in the transformation of monocytes into macrophages is a protein called colony stimulating factor 1 receptor, or CSF1R. In tests with lab rodents and monkeys, the researchers found current materials used in medical implants, including ceramics, polymers, and even biocompatible hydrogels induce production of CSF1R proteins, which in turn promote development of scar tissue where the materials are implanted. Anderson’s lab is studying alginate as an implant material, a hydrogel made with natural substances found in algae that still induce an immune response and scar tissue.

In addition, the team discovered by blocking CSF1R proteins, they could stop the the build-up of scar tissue from implants of those materials. But the research uncovered another key finding: blocking CSF1R proteins stopped only the scar tissue build-up, not other functions of macrophages, such as healing wounds and fighting infections. These results suggest blocking CSF1R actions could make medical implants safer, while still preserving other helpful macrophage functions.

“We’re preventing the macrophages from toggling into an activated warning state where they sound the alarm for this massive immune response to show up,” says postdoctoral researcher and first author Joshua Doloff in a university statement. “It’s generalizable to many different types of biomaterials, and hopefully will also be generalizable to many platforms for different purposes.”

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Trial to Test Gene Therapy for Inherited Eye Disease

Adeno-associated virus

Electrostatic image of adeno-associated virus (National Institute of General Medical Sciences, NIH)

20 March 2017. A spin-off enterprise from University of Oxford in the U.K. began enrolling participants in a clinical trial testing gene therapy to correct a genetic eye disease. NightstaRx Ltd in London says the study is the first of its type to test a treatment for X-linked retinitis pigmentosa, a rare disorder that leads to blindness mainly in men.

NightstaRx specializes in therapies for genetic diseases affecting the retina, in this case the breakdown and failure of photoreceptor cells in the retina leading to progressive vision loss. Retinitis pigmentosa takes several forms, but in this type is caused largely by a recessive mutation in the retinitis pigmentosa GTPase regulator or RPGR gene. The mutation causes a breakdown in photoreceptor cells leading to blind spots, night blindness, and tunnel vision, progressing to total blindness. There is so far no cure for retinitis pigmentosa, with most treatments designed to cope with vision loss.

NightstaRx was formed in January 2104 to commercialize the research of Oxford ophthalmologist Robert MacLaren, the company’s scientific founder and current board member. MacLaren’s research is the basis of NightstaRx’s lead product, a gene therapy code-named AAV2-REP1 for choroideremia, another inherited disorder affecting the retina. AAV2-REP1 is now in an early-and intermediate-stage clinical trial.

The company’s treatments for X-linked retinitis pigmentosa, uses a method similar to AAV2-REP1, harnessing adeno-associated viruses to deliver the therapy. Adeno-associated viruses are benign and naturally occurring microbes that can infect cells, but do not integrate with the cell’s genome or cause disease, other than at most mild reactions in humans. NightstaRx says it licensed the rights to the technology being tested in the trial some 18 months ago.

In this case, the treatments contain healthy RPGR genes injected the eyes, with the adeno-associated viruses carrying the genes into the retinal cells. The clinical trial is recruiting 24 men with X-linked retinitis pigmentosa at ophthalmology clinics in Oxford and Manchester. The early- and intermediate-stage study is looking primarily at the safety of the treatments and tolerability in participants over 12 months.

MacLaren, the clinical trial’s lead investigator, says in a company statement that preclinical studies in animals suggest gene therapy can correct defective photoreceptor cells. “Based on previous findings in preclinical in vivo disease models, which have shown significant rescue of photoreceptors,” notes MacLaren, “we believe this approach has great potential to restore or maintain sight in patients.”

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Heart Assoc, Amazon Partner on Precision Medicine Data

Heart check

(Gerd Altmann, Pixabay)

17 March 2017. American Heart Association and Amazon Web Services are collecting data from researchers to advance precision medicine in cardiovascular diseases and stroke. Some 8 organizations and institutions already plan to providing studies for this database, but the project’s organizers are asking for more.

The Precision Medicine Platform is an initiative of the Heart Association’s Institute for Precision Cardiovascular Medicine that’s compiling the research findings. These results, when combined into a single database, provide tools for analysts to glean insights into more complex interactions between genetics and cardiovascular disorders. The organizers of the database are particularly interested in findings from clinical trials, long-running epidemiological studies, patient registries, and real-time health data acquired through wearable devices and technology.

“The platform provides an opportunity to learn, search and discover in new and efficient ways,” says Jennifer Hall, Chief of the Institute for Precision Cardiovascular Medicine in an association statement, “and we will keep working with the community to weave in new diverse data to help us drill deeper and enrich our understanding.” So far 8 organizations and companies are providing data for the platform: drug maker AstraZeneca, Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute, Dallas Heart Study, Duke Cardiovascular Research Institute, Intermountain Health, the International Stroke Genetics Consortium, the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, and Stanford University.

Laura Stevens, a computational biologist at University of Colorado medical school and early user of the database adds, “The platform makes big data analyses much quicker and easier. It’s a great foundation for implementing precision medicine and research in a clinical setting.”

The association says Precision Medicine Platform not only collects the data, it also provides tools for integrating and harmonizing the findings from multiple sources. Amazon Web Services already offers cloud computing and hosting  to support genomics and big data analytics for health care and life science enterprises. Researchers can register and access current data for free, but Amazon Web Services will charge a fee to make use of its cloud computing capabilities.

American Heart Association and Amazon Web Services are also collaborating on grants and fellowships for researchers that make use of cloud computing. As reported by Science and Enterprise in July 2016, the organizations offered several types of awards at the time, of which 2 programs are still available:

Methods validation grants, for validating existing algorithms and analytic tools to predict clinical outcomes. The 2-year $200,000 grants will be supplemented with up to $150,000 per year in Amazon Web Services credits.

Institutional data fellowships, institutional grants for 2 years to focus on educating and training the next generation of researchers in cloud computing.

New grant programs for precision medicine drug discovery are also available. Deadlines for these grant applications occur in April and June 2017. The following video tells more about the initiative.

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