Cambridge, MA, and New York, NY – GNS Healthcare, Inc. (GNS), the leading healthcare data analytics company focused on enabling personalized medicine to improve human health, today announced that it has entered into a collaboration with CHDI Foundation, Inc. (CHDI) to create a data-driven computer model of Huntington’s disease (HD), a debilitating neurodegenerative disorder for which there are currently no effective therapies. Created using GNS’s supercomputer-driven REFS™ (Reverse Engineering and Forward Simulation) platform, the aim is to help researchers discover novel therapies for the disease.
“GNS will apply its big data analytics platform to create a disease-specific computer model that will yield a powerful new resource to the Huntington’s disease research community—with the ultimate aim of better outcomes for patients,” said GNS Executive Vice President and Co-Founder Dr. Iya Khalil. “This collaboration with CHDI is representative of our focus on using big data analytics to reveal new insights into a disease and provide tools for scientists that will help transform the tremendous amount of information coming from new technologies such as next-generation sequencing into predictive computer models of disease progression and drug response. This project serves as a model for future projects focused on other challenging, complex and orphan diseases.”
“While the cause of Huntington’s disease is known, there are currently no effective treatments for this devastating disorder. CHDI’s research efforts focus on understanding the underlying biology of HD in order to discover treatments that slow disease progression,” said Dr. Keith Elliston, Vice President of Systems Biology at CHDI. “The HD model that GNS is building will allow researchers to perform simulations that generate novel hypotheses to help drive this understanding. As such, this collaboration between CHDI and GNS represents an innovative, complementary approach to advancing discoveries that we hope will lead to novel therapies.”
Under the collaboration, GNS will employ the REFS™ platform to reverse engineer network models from genomic, expression and cell signaling data. Results from millions of in silico simulations of the REFS™ models will provide new insights into the fundamental mechanisms of Huntington’s disease, enabling the development of more effective treatments. Upon completion, the REFS™ network models will be transferred to CHDI and its affiliated researchers, allowing the HD research community to utilize the models on an ongoing basis.
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 symptom onset. There are currently no therapeutics approved that slow the progression of Huntington’s disease. It is estimated that the disorder affects about 30,000 people in the United States and at least 150,000 others have a 50% risk of developing Huntington’s disease at some point.
REFS™ (Reverse Engineering and Forward Simulation) is GNS Healthcare’s scalable, supercomputer-enabled framework for discovering new knowledge directly from data. REFS™ automates the discovery and extraction of causal network models from observational data and uses high-throughput simulations to generate new knowledge.
About GNS Healthcare
GNS Healthcare is a ‘Big Data’ analytics company that has developed a scalable approach for the discovery of what works in healthcare, and for whom. GNS analytics solutions are being applied across the healthcare industry: from pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, health plans and hospitals, to integrated delivery systems, Pharmacy Benefits Managers (PBMs) and Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs). GNS Healthcare discovers the knowledge needed to match patients with treatments that work. www.gnshealthcare.com
About CHDI Foundation, Inc.
CHDI Foundation, Inc. is a privately-funded, not-for-profit, scientific 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 project management to ensure that our common goals remain in focus. More information about CHDI can be found at www.chdifoundation.org
Jennifer Conrad or Cory Tromblee
MacDougall Biomedical Communications