Members of U-BIOPRED gathered in Barcelona for the project’s final Annual General Meeting (AGM).
The meeting, which took place on 26-27 January, was an opportunity for people involved in the project in different ways to meet and discuss the year’s progress and targets for 2014.
The key outcomes reported for 2013 included:
- The data for the project is fit for purpose, and will enable scientists to identify the phenotypes and generate asthma ‘handprints’
- The early data confirm the link between inflammation and lung function
- The project has created a strong infrastructure and resources that will benefit future research, such as the standard operating procedures (SOP) agreed between the different centres and scientists
- UBIOPRED is the first study of the life-course of asthma: from pre-school age through to adulthood
The meeting began with an introduction from project coordinator, Professor Peter Sterk, followed by each work package giving a summary of their activities. The focus of the meeting was the presentation of the data and the analysis of this data in the many different areas of research seen in the project.
The meeting began with an introduction from project coordinator, Professor Peter Sterk, followed by each work package giving a summary of their activities. Over the 2-day event, separate meetings were held to discuss specific issues and targets. Plans for the future of the project were discussed, such as applying for further funding and if the project has any commercial potential.
There was also a presentation on the new online open-access journal Statistical Data, where data and results can be shared in greater detail than is possible in traditional research papers.
Achievements in 2013: in detail
The project has progressed on schedule and followed several important steps to ensure the quality of the data and success of the work completed in 2013.
- Recruitment was completed in April 2013, with 1,029 people taking part in the project (730 adult, 299 children). The different groups of participants are:
- Adults with severe asthma; adult smokers with severe asthma; adults with non-severe asthma; adults without asthma
- pre-school children with severe and mild/moderate asthma
- school-age children with severe and mild/moderate asthma
- The project received a positive mid-term review on ethics, safety and patient participation from the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI)
- The standards and procedure for taking the samples from participants, delivering them to the biobank and storing them has been finalised. This ensures that high-quality samples are taken and maintained for use throughout the project.
- A factsheet on bronchoscopy was produced to help the centres recruit people to have the procedure and give samples.
- The scientists have identified some ‘fingerprints’ and parts of ‘handprints’ using the data available so far.
- In 2013, U-BIOPRED members published 4 papers in academic journals (European Respiratory Journal, Chest and Clinical Science), and 5 abstracts and 2 presentations were delivered at the European Respiratory Society (ERS) Congress. There were a further 6 abstracts at the American Thoracic Society (ATS) Conference. Visit the publications page for details.
- The new-look website was launched to better showcase the project. Visitors from across the globe are spending longer on the new website. The greatest numbers of visitors are resident in the UK, USA, Netherlands, France and Belgium, Italy, Germany, India, Spain and Sweden. This website will stay up after the project has ended and be updated with news on publications and related projects.
- Videos on key themes in U-BIOPRED were filmed at ERS Congress, and during the AGM. These include interviews on: public and patient involvement in research; biobanking; the participation of children in research; how academics work with industry on large-scale research projects.
- A survey was sent out to all recruitment centres, asking participants to share their opinions on taking part. The findings will be shared with the aim of increasing recruitment and ensuring participant satisfaction in future studies.
- The involvement of people with asthma in the project’s advisory boards and patient input platform was showcased at the IMI patient focus event in Brussels in 2013.
- The project has a preliminary agreement for a 12-month extension so the work of U-BIOPRED will continue until September 2015.
Focus for 2014
As the project enters its last full year of activity, the focus will be on analysing the data from the different samples and participant histories, to bring together and define the phenotypes of the adult and paediatric groups, and establish the severe asthma handprint. To achieve this, the project members will:
- Explore the relationships between the human and animal data on severe asthma
- Continue working with AirPROM, eTRICKS, and MeDALL to develop a computerised asthma disease map, manage the huge amount of knowledge produced by the project and develop models of asthma
- To increase recruitment for the rhinovirus trials, especially among people with mild-moderate asthma. A factsheet about rhinovirus and the trial will be produced and used by the centre to encourage recruitment.
- Conduct follow up visits at 1-1.5 years after each participant’s initial visit
- All samples will have been sent to the biobank by May 2014
- Research papers will be written on the different stage of the project including recruitment, collection of samples, sampling analysis and set up of the Bioinformatics group, and new findings
The final meeting of the project will be in 2015, when the results will be announced at a dissemination event. All project members will be invited along with interested parties from the EU, patient organisations, academics and industry. Details will be on the website once available.