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Progress and Success Through Collaboration

What an Accelerated Medicines Partnership would mean for psoriatic disease.

What happens when leading organizations and researchers come together to solve current challenges in research? Faster progress and greater success.

That’s what the Accelerating Medicines Partnership (AMP) model aims to accomplish.

“The AMP model brings together academic universities, pharmaceutical companies, the NIH, and non-profit organizations to tackle and solve large scale biomedical challenges,” says Wilson Liao, M.D., Director of the UCSF Psoriasis Center, Professor of Dermatology.

“You can enhance therapeutics if you cross-pollinate and put academia, pharmaceutical, the NIH and other stakeholders in the same room,” adds Dr. Jose Scher, Associate Professor and Director of NYU Langone’s Psoriatic Arthritis Center and the Microbiome Center for Rheumatology and Autoimmunity.

Launched in 2014, the AMP is a partnership among these organizations with one ultimate goal: to increase the number of new diagnostics and therapies for patients and reduce the time and cost of developing them.

At the beginning, there were 3 disease areas to focus on and they included: Alzheimer’s disease, auto immune disorders of rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus (RA/SLE), and type 2 diabetes. In 2018, an AMP project on Parkinson’s disease was launched.

And now, there’s talk of an AMP project on psoriatic disease being initiated in the future, whether in conjunction with other immune-mediated diseases or as a primary focus. Dr. Scher, Dr. Liao and Dr. Christopher Ritchlin have led the initial efforts and discussions and have included the NPF as the organization is suited to serve as the hub in a wheel that includes several partners.  There’s a lot of excitement among dermatologists and rheumatologists about this possibility. “A psoriatic disease AMP would bring together dermatologists, rheumatologists, and industry partners to tackle major challenges facing patients with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. This includes early diagnosis, development of biomarkers to predict drug response, and understanding disease heterogeneity. It also includes understanding the biological connection between skin inflammation, joint inflammation, and comorbidities,” says Dr. Liao.

The process would begin by researchers submitting proposals or a consortium deciding on questions to address.  Together, scientists from academic centers, the NIH and industry work collaboratively, making AMP data and analysis publicly accessible while staying focused on researching disease biomarkers and identifying biological targets that are most likely to respond to new therapies. The impact of this partnership aims to increase efficiency of discovery and development, improve the clinical trial process, and increase the number and effectiveness of new targeted therapies. 

While exciting, it is not without its challenges. “Being more innovative and creative,” is one area that Dr. Scher mentions as a mild concern, as findings from this new AMP hopefully would be adding new advances and information to address outstanding questions and unmet needs. Dr. Liao adds that another challenge for the psoriatic disease AMP would be coordinating the massive amount of data generated from multiple partners and study sites. However, the benefits outweigh the risks. “Big problems get solved when multiple groups with different skillsets engage in collaboration and cooperation. I am very hopeful that a psoriatic disease AMP would greatly advance the field and make major strides in improving the lives of patients with psoriatic disease.”

In 2019, findings from research supported by the AMP on RA/SLE included identification of “novel molecular signatures related to immune system signaling in kidney cells that may reflect their active role in disease process; molecular targets, including specific white blood cells, for potential treatment in lupus nephritis; and specific types of fibroblasts and white blood cells that are involved in rheumatoid arthritis.”[1] These types of findings can be of benefit for future AMPs, especially ones such as a psoriatic disease AMP. The AMP on RA/SLE offers not only significant advancements, but also many learnings, including which tissues to consider using. Even more exciting, by examining the data and learnings from the RA/SLE AMP and a psoriatic disease AMP, there is the possibility that we could determine if certain biomarkers, for instance, are specific to the disease or to systemic inflammation in general, says Dr. Scher.

Psoriatic disease is a dynamic, systemic process. It can start early and up to a third of patients go on to develop psoriatic arthritis. This leads to questions like “why do people develop psoriasis, why do certain people respond to certain treatments, and why only some people develop psoriatic arthritis?” When you speak with Dr. Scher, you can hear his excitement as he starts discussing the scientific and clinical facets of the disease spectrum and how the AMP may provide an opportunity to learn more about precision medicine as it relates to psoriatic disease. “As a rheumatologist, three big questions regarding psoriatic disease include: 1) Why do people develop psoriasis 2) Can we predict which patients with psoriasis will predict to PsA, and 3) Can we prevent PsA?” He adds that it would incredibly beneficial if a precision medicine approach could be developed that could predict a patient’s response to a therapy and potentially prevent disease progression. With an AMP on psoriatic disease, we open up the possibility of learning more about not only the disease, but we can aim to develop a precision medicine approach to managing it. As Dr. Scher says, “Precision medicine and AMP go hand-in-hand.”

An effort has been initiated in the EU by the International Medicines Initiative to investigate early diagnosis, progress to PsA and development of rational, personalized treatment strategies to improve long-term outcomes in PsA. An AMP effort would lead this research in the United States. There could be potential synergy as well.

[1]https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/new-clues-tissue-damage-identified-rheumatoid-arthritis-lupus

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