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New project HIPPOCRATES sets sights on psoriatic arthritis

By speeding up diagnosis and paving the way for personalised treatments, HIPPOCRATES hopes to improve the quality of life of people living with psoriatic arthritis.

Arthritic hands. Image by Ian Furst / Wikimedia
Symptoms of psoriatic arthritis include pain and joint stiffness. Image by Ian Furst via Wikimedia CC BY-SA 4.0

Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that primarily affects the skin. However, 20-30 % of people with psoriasis develop a condition called psoriatic arthritis. Symptoms of psoriatic arthritis include pain, joint stiffness and fatigue, and it can dramatically impact the quality of life of those affected. Today, psoriatic arthritis is very hard to diagnose, and it is not possible to predict which psoriasis patients will go on to develop psoriatic arthritis.

The aim of HIPPOCRATES is to deliver knowledge and tools that will make it easier to spot the psoriasis patients who are at greatest risk of developing psoriatic arthritis, and diagnose them faster. In addition, the team hopes to make it easier to predict how fast a patient’s condition is likely to worsen, and which treatments are most likely to be effective for them. Finally, the team plans to probe the molecular basis of psoriatic arthritis – information that will aid in the development of much-needed new drugs to treat the condition.

The project will do all of this by drawing together data from existing psoriatic arthritis studies and establishing a library of clinical samples. They will also carry out a new study which will follow 25 000 people with psoriasis to see which ones develop psoriatic arthritis. The project will use machine learning and other artificial intelligence techniques to assist in the analysis of the data. Patients are at the heart of the consortium and will be involved in all aspects of the project’s work.

‘We anticipate that the advances provided by HIPPOCRATES will result in significant new developments that improve patients’ quality of life,’ says project coordinator Oliver FitzGerald of University College Dublin.

‘This public-private partnership is a great opportunity to decipher this highly heterogenous disease, and to enable novel PsA [psoriatic arthritis] therapies and treatment strategies including precision medicine approaches,’ adds EFPIA lead of the consortium Christine Huppertz of Novartis.

The HIPPOCRATES project brings together 26 partners and is set to run for five years. It has a budget of just over EUR 21 million, half of which comes from IMI, and half of which comes in the form of in-kind contributions from the EFPIA companies in the project.

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