4:43 PM
Dec 21, 2017
 |  BC Innovations  |  Strategy

Computing towards a cure

How CHDI is working with IBM’s computing power to model Huntington’s disease

With the help of IBM, the Huntington’s disease not-for-profit CHDI and its partners have been bringing artificial intelligence to HD research and developing models of disease progression that integrate data from the level of genes to clinical outcomes.

The partnership aims to drive drug discovery by marrying CHDI Foundation Inc.’s network and access to patient data with IBM Corp.’s expertise in AI to generate models that will generate a steady stream of new projects for drug developers to pick up.

The early fruits have yielded three studies on modeling disease progression and folding of HTT - the protein mutated in HD -- and more publications planned in 2018.

CHDI is a nonprofit whose mission is to facilitate development of treatments for HD by funding collaborations among research groups with different strengths, including academic investigators, CROs, pharmas and biotechs.

President Robi Blumenstein told BioCentury CHDI wanted to move beyond the “traditional approach” of developing hypotheses based on a singular pathway or mechanism, which he said “has not been very successful” due to the complexity of the brain and the interactions between pathways and cells.

The organization looked to IBM to help it create a systems biology approach capable of integrating research from gene to patient, incorporating protein data, metabolic systems, cell circuits and human phenotypes (see “From Cells to Patients”).

Figure: From cells to patients

To find treatments for Huntington’s disease, CHDI Foundation Inc. is taking a systems biology approach that integrates data, not only within each level of complexity, but also across levels from the gene and molecular networks (bottom left) up through to the patient population level (top right). Source: CHDI Foundation Inc.

According to Ajay Royyuru, VP of healthcare & life sciences research at IBM, the tech company was already doing...

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