GNS Healthcare is developing a big data solution to help the CHDI Foundation discover new treatments for Huntington’s disease.
The Cure Huntington's Disease Initiative (CHDI) Foundation is a non-profit biomedical organisation founded in 2002 and based in the US. The CHDI Foundation is now going to partner with GNS Healthcare, a specialist in using analytics to find new medical solutions, to see if big data could lend a hand in advancing treatments for the disease.
Huntington's disease is a debilitating neurodegenerative disorder with a lack of effective treatment.
It is named after Dr. George Huntington, who first described the disease in 1872 and is caused by a mutation in the so-called Huntington gene, in which a DNA sequence repeats abnormally. The disease affects an estimated 3 - 7 per 100,000 in Europe. In the United States alone, about 30,000 people have Huntington's disease and at least 150,000 others have a 50 per cent risk of developing it.
Now GNS and CHDI are going to bring together their respective talents in analytical modelling and research and expertise on the disease to attempt to create computer models to view disease progression and map the drug response of the patient. Treatments currently available are ineffective but the partnership between the two organisations, which was announced on Tuesday (14 August), hopes to slow the progression of the disease and allow sufferers to lead more of a normal life once diagnosed.
By using patient data to analyse the effectiveness of current drugs and treatments alongside the individual’s personal health records and the progression of the disease, the pair will attempt to identify which elements of existing treatment prove successful, on whom, when and why. GNS will use its Reverse Engineering and Forward Simulation (REFS) scalable supercomputing platform to aid researchers seeking to discover new treatments for Huntington's – REFS enables researchers to create high-throughput simulations of data for medical research.
Dr. Keith Elliston, vice president of systems biology at CHDI, said: “While the cause of Huntington's disease is known, there are currently no effective treatments for this devastating disorder.
“The Huntington's model that GNS is building will allow researchers to perform simulations that generate novel hypotheses to help drive this understanding.”
Dr. Iya Khalil, executive vice president and co-founder of GNS Healthcare, added: “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.”
Scientists in the US have previously said that they were able to spot that the actor Michael J Fox had Parkinson’s disease because of his shortening stride.