The Centre of Excellence for the Prevention of Organ Failure (PROOF Centre) and AllerGen NCE (Allergy, Genes and Environment Network of Centres of Excellence) are working together to develop blood tests that will speed up clinical trials investigating the efficacy of drugs treating allergic disease.
Leveraging expertise of the PROOF Centre, researchers will use blood samples obtained from the AllerGen Clinical Investigator Collaborative (CIC) to identify molecular signals (“biomarkers”) predictive of chronic inflammatory responses in allergic asthmatic adults. The discovery of novel biomarkers will ultimately allow for the effective monitoring of promising therapeutics for allergic asthma.
“Such biomarkers, implemented via a simple blood test, will identify subjects who are late asthmatic responders so that they can be pre-selected for clinical trials that examine how effective new pharmacological interventions are in attenuating inflammatory responses to allergen exposure,” says Dr. Scott Tebbutt, Chief Scientific Officer of the PROOF Centre. “By speeding up the selection process, these blood tests will also lower the cost of recruiting asthmatic subjects into clinical trials.”
Today, over 50% of Canadian families are directly or indirectly affected by asthma and allergic diseases. Allergic diseases place tremendous psychosocial and economic burdens on both Canadians and the healthcare system, costing up to $15 billion annually in emergency department visits, prescribed medications and productivity losses at school and work. Individuals with allergic asthma respond differently to exposure to allergens such as pollen, mites, or molds. While some develop an isolated “early” (resolving quickly) response, others go on to develop a “late” (i.e., ongoing and more severe) response, the latter characterized by severe inflammation of the airways that can only be partly reversed by existing drugs.
Dr. Judah Denburg, Scientific Director and CEO of AllerGen NCE, states: “This collaboration between two Networks of Centres of Excellence is an imperative step towards understanding the biological mechanisms that lead to allergy-related airway responses in asthmatics. The development of a blood test that can accurately predict late phase allergic responses is especially significant, as this fundamentally different response is believed to contribute to chronic airway inflammation and uncontrolled disease.”
The PROOF Centre and AllerGen NCE anticipate completing the development and validation of a biomarker panel that, by early 2014, can predict an asthmatic individual’s response to allergen exposure, and that can diagnose a late allergic response.