Developing Systems Biology Tools for Huntington’s Disease
News Jul 27, 2012
The Intellectual Property & Science business of Thomson Reuters, the world's leading source of intelligent information for businesses and professionals, today announced a partnership with CHDI Foundation, Inc. to develop systems biology tools for Huntington’s disease (HD) research. HD is a devastating neurodegenerative disorder that affects muscle coordination and leads to gradual cognitive decline and dementia; there are currently no effective treatments available. The collaboration will include reconstruction and analysis of causal networks underlying HD mechanisms and building a comprehensive collection of HD pathology pathway maps to assist researchers worldwide.
“Building a clearer, more detailed understanding of Huntington’s disease that leads to the development of therapies is CHDI’s top priority,” said Keith Elliston, vice president of systems biology at CHDI. “We are very pleased to be collaborating with Thomson Reuters to provide the whole HD research community with valuable tools that will further our knowledge of the disease and bring us closer to effective therapeutic options for patients.”
One of the central goals of the MetaMiner Partnership will be to identify disease mechanisms through network analysis of gene expression data in HD patients with different numbers of CAG repeats in the huntingtin (HTT) gene. The number of CAG repeats is a predictor of the age of disease onset.
A second objective of the collaboration will be to build pathology pathway maps for disease mechanisms, continuing the work of MetaMinerTM for HD, a program that focuses on HD pathway reconstruction. This project, a collaborative effort between Thomson Reuters, as well as selected pharmaceutical companies and universities, has generated 15 specific HD pathway maps. Thomson Reuters builds causal networks and pathway maps using a proprietary manual curation technology and full text peer-review literature as a source of protein interactions.
“The pathway maps and unique content Thomson Reuters is developing for this collaborative effort with CHDI are especially valuable in shedding light on Huntington’s disease and its mechanisms,” said Jon Brett-Harris, executive vice president, Life Sciences, Thomson Reuters. “The maps will provide HD researchers with a resource to reveal the mechanisms behind the disease and further extend the drug discovery process. We are honored to have the opportunity to work with CHDI as a research partner on this critical program, and to be able to contribute our state-of-the-art content with high value professional services and research capabilities.”
Once complete, the images of the new HD pathway maps will be available on CHDI’s website and through MetaCore. Users of MetaCore, an integrated software suite for functional data analysis, will be able to access the HD pathway maps for greater insight via MetaCore’s analysis tools.
Scientists want access to data collected by others for their research, but such access could also compromise personal privacy, even after removal of so-called personally identifiable data. Now, statisticians are developing synthetic networks that may increase the availability of some data while still protecting individual or institutional privacy.