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U-BIOPRED on course to create a handprint of severe asthma

U-BIOPRED on course to create a handprint of severe asthma

The U-BIOPRED project is set to meet its ultimate aim of creating a handprint of severe asthma to advance understanding of the disease. 

The final annual meeting of U-BIOPRED members was held in Leuven, Belgium on 22-23 June, 2015 and was followed by a results symposium that was open to patients and the public (24 June, 2015).

Project leaders reported that the creation of a severe asthma handprint was on course, which would help the project deliver its ultimate aim of uncovering new information and ideas that could lead to the creation of effective new treatments.

The meeting was an opportunity for project members to share their achievements and plan to ensure that the project’s objectives can be met over the final stages of this 6-year project (2000-2015).    

In-depth analysis: key activities and outcomes

Sample collection

Samples from 893 adults and children with severe asthma have been collected as part of the project and compared to samples from people with mild asthma, no asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD),  to identify different sub-types (known as phenotypes) of severe asthma. The samples are also analysed to:

This diagram shows the process of how the samples from the trial participants are used by different studies in U-BIOPRED to produce a handprint of severe asthma. Two key factors that make this possible are the storing and transport of the samples in the U-BIOPRED biobank, and the knowledge management system that enables the project members to access all the different data produced by the sample analysis.


 UBIOPRED process

Fingerprints and handprints

Once the sample collection was complete, data was put together using advanced mathematics to develop a ‘handprint’ of severe asthma sub-types. These are created through the identification of markers based on very specific factors, ranging from the individual’s genes to the impact of other conditions, such as allergy, and their quality of life with severe asthma (red text).

This diagram shows how the different types of information collected from the trial participants (black text) are being used to identify the subtypes of severe asthma.


Goals achieved

U-BIOPRED has so far achieved 75% of its main goals. It is expected that 90% of these goals will be met by the end of August 2015. The goals that have been met include:

U-BIOPRED has been able to shift thinking from asthma as a single disease with a single treatment, to the awareness of different subtypes of asthma, which can be identified through tests so that patients can receive better treatment that is more closely matched to their subtype of asthma.

By achieving this, U-BIOPRED is helping make personalised medicine a reality, where each person’s unique type of severe asthma can be identified and treated with the best treatment for them.



Next steps (2015/16)

Although the EU funding for the project ends in September 2015, the U-BIOPRED members are committed to completing their work, which will see results coming from the project continuing into 2016. Aims include:

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