UK Universities to Create World’s Largest Inflammatory Disease Biobank

Ines Martins, PhD avatar

by Ines Martins, PhD |

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IMID biobank

U.K. researchers are establishing a national consortium with a grant of £1.7 million (British pounds) from the Medical Research Council (MRC) to create the world’s largest Immune-Mediated Inflammatory Disease (IMID) Biobank, with more than 40,000 patients.

The IMIDBio-UK consortium will incorporate different biobanks and clinical datasets into one single, searchable, and analyzable “superhighway” that will allow for unprecedented access to information about IMIDs across the U.K.

The “super” biobank could enable more precise treatment of immune-mediated inflammatory diseases, like systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), psoriasis, and other conditions.

Researchers hope the new biobank will enable a wider, safer use of biologics and new medicines across the IMID spectrum. By bringing together samples and comparing data and clinical practice, it is anticipated to optimize clinical pathways for common IMIDs and provide new insight into biologic use in rarer and poorly characterized immune-mediated inflammatory diseases.

The consortium brings together researchers from Newcastle University, Queen Mary University of London, University of Cambridge, University of Glasgow, and the University of Manchester.

Leading the consortium is Iain McInnes, professor and director of the University of Glasgow’s Institute of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation.

“IMIDBio-UK is a unique opportunity to bring together the strengths of inflammation medicine from across the United Kingdom,” McInnes said in a University of Manchester news story. “By working together we will learn from cohorts of patients with seemingly different conditions, such as psoriasis, arthritis, kidney and liver disease, and bring them together to shed new light on the specific causes of each condition individually, but also we hope to find common pathways that drive them collectively.

“Using this knowledge in future we will be able to seek new medicines, and importantly, by applying the principles of precision medicine, we will be able to use these new medicines in the right person, at the right time, and at the right dose,” McInnes added.

Chris Griffiths, also a professor at the University of Manchester and co-investigator at IMIDBio-UK, said the creation of IMID-Bio UK is an “important first step in uniting the UK’s resources and expertise in personalized care for inflammatory disease. The Manchester team is delighted to be part of this consortium and the opportunities it will provide to enhance patient care.”

Big-data is a rising trend in medical research. These “superhighways of information” can provide the kind of large-scale data necessary to apply a precision medicine approach to health conditions like IMIDs.

Researchers should also soon be able to create “molecular maps” of their patients, ultimately allowing them to prescribe more effective and less toxic medicines to patients, depending on their condition.