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Collaboration seeks to unlock secrets of neuromuscular disease

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A 7.5m euro EU-funded research project is to concentrate on the search for non-invasive biomarkers in people with the Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophies and Collagen VI myopathies.

BIO-NMD will be led by Professor Alessandra Ferlini at the University of Ferrara, Italy, and will involve leading European academic and industry partners, including Ariadne, working to identify non-invasive biomarkers for monitoring neuromuscular diseases (NMDs). Utilising a myriad of OMIC sciences (genomic, transcriptomic, proteomic) and bioinformatics, the consortium hopes to bring qualified biomarkers for ongoing and further clinical trials.

Ariadne's focus will be on providing bioinformatics tools for identifying functional pathways, potential targets and data outflow integration. The team will use its software, Pathway Studio, as a core to integrate the data and information flow, in addition to using its expertise in information extraction to develop a literature-derived NMD biological knowledgebase of related processes and diseases. Specifically, Ariadne will build mechanistic models and pathways for NMD and interpret OMIC data generated by the consortium and partners in the context of NMD knowledgebase and networks.

Ferlini said, 'The participation of Ariadne as partners together with INSERM is crucial for the project. Developing bioinformatic tools for OMIC studies analysis is essential and guarantees success to the project. In addition, it reinforces collaboration between academics and industries, again a key point for successful research to be translated into clinics.'

The first update workshops for the BIO-NMD consortium are to be held in July in London and will include sessions dedicated to its industrial partners. The consortium will present and describe the project impacts, possible outcomes and identify links for future collaborations with industry.