GNS Healthcare and CHDI Foundation collaborate to identify novel drug targets for Huntington’s disease
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. and NEW YORK CITY – Nov. 12, 2014 – GNS Healthcare (GNS), a leading provider of big data analytics in health care, announced today that CHDI Foundation, Inc. (CHDI), a privately-funded, nonprofit biomedical research organization exclusively dedicated to Huntington’s disease, has committed to continuing their collaboration to accelerate the discovery process for therapeutics that will slow the progression of Huntington’s disease.
The multi-year project leverages best-in-class genomic data and computational modeling and a committed team of accomplished scientists from CHDI and GNS, who are collaborating to discover the most promising genetic and molecular targets for Huntington’s disease drug development. GNS will apply its patented inference engine and machine-learning technology, REFS™, to the enormous CHDI dataset, which encompasses genomic, molecular, phenotypic, and other data characterizing manifestation of Huntington’s disease, in humans and in multiple mouse models of the disease.
“Our work with CHDI demonstrates the role for big data analytics to accelerate research along the path to value,” says Iya Khalil, Ph.D., Co-founder and Executive Vice President of GNS. “Our inference engine finds cause-and-effect relationships in large data sets that up until now could not be easily identified. The work is designed to better understand the cause of the disease, leading to early intelligent interventions that slow progression.”
The collaboration builds on the success of a previous GNS and CHDI project to develop predictive computer models of the molecular pathology in Huntington’s disease. The models turn information into knowledge, giving researchers a tool that makes the massive flow of data coming from new technologies, such as next-generation gene sequencing, more manageable and useful. The Huntington’s disease research community is already putting these models to work, performing sophisticated computer analyses that generate novel hypotheses and help direct follow-up studies.
“The models developed by GNS allow the Huntington’s disease community to approach the disease in a novel holistic way, providing new insights into the molecular pathology of HD that will advance our understanding of the disease,” says Jim Rosinski, Ph.D., Director, Computational Biology at CHDI.
Both projects benefit from an in silico approach, using machine learning and cloud-based computing to simulate many of the traditional steps in the drug discovery and development process. The tactic aspires to bypass obstacles that often delay or prevent promising new treatments from reaching patients, a process that can take more than a decade and can cost as much as $1 billion.
GNS has successfully used REFS to advance the research priorities of numerous nonprofit organizations focused on diseases including multiple sclerosis (MS), childhood asthma, Alzheimer’s disease, and others. Working with healthcare payers and providers, GNS has harnessed its big data analytics solutions to transform population health intervention strategies related to medication adherence, metabolic syndrome, pre-term birth, and other persistent and costly public health concerns.
About Huntington’s Disease
Huntington’s disease is an inherited neurodegenerative disorder caused by a mutation in the huntingtin gene. The defect causes a DNA sequence called a CAG repeat to occur many more times than normal. Each child of a parent with a mutation in the huntingtin gene has a 50% chance of inheriting the mutation. As a result of carrying the mutation, an individual’s brain cells degenerate leading to behavioral, cognitive, and motor impairments that, over the course of the disease, significantly reduce the individual’s quality of life and ultimately cause death within 15 to 25 years of overt clinical onset. There are currently no therapeutics approved that slow the progression of Huntington’s disease.
About GNS Healthcare
GNS Healthcare is a big data analytics company that empowers payers, providers and pharmaceutical companies to make intelligent data-driven decisions. We unlock knowledge within complex data, enabling personalized, actionable predictions and precision targeting. For 15 years, GNS has been committed to developing and deploying the most sophisticated mathematical and computational platforms to help our partners improve health and reduce costs. www.GNSHealthcare.com
About CHDI Foundation, Inc.
CHDI Foundation, Inc. is a privately-funded, nonprofit, biomedical research organization exclusively dedicated to rapidly discovering and developing therapies that slow the progression of Huntington’s disease. As a collaborative enabler, CHDI seeks to bring the right partners together to identify and address critical scientific issues and move drug candidates to clinical evaluation as quickly as possible. Our scientists work closely with a network of more than 600 researchers in academic and industrial laboratories around the world in the pursuit of these novel therapies, providing strategic scientific direction to ensure that our common goals remain in focus. More information about CHDI can be found at www.chdifoundation.org.