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Clinnova to Launch Precision Medicine Initiative Across Europe

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Publié le jeudi 27 avril 2023

Inaugurating a new initiative to foster AI-driven precision medicine via data federation, standardisation, and interoperability.

Clinnova, an international project involving clinicians and researchers from Luxembourg, France, Germany and Switzerland, is being officially launched in Luxembourg on 27 April at a kick-off ceremony attended by the Ministers of Higher Education & Research and Health. The initiative aims to realise benefits of precision medicine for treatment decisions through data federation, standardisation, and interoperability. The project is supported jointly from the FNR, the Grand Est, the Canton of Basel Stadt as well as Baden-Württemberg and will establish a shared launchpad for medical AI algorithm development in the heart of Europe.

From left to right: Marc Berna (HRS), Jasmin Schulz (LIH), Marc Schiltz (FNR), Ulf Nehrbass (LIH), Claude Meisch (Minister of Higher Education & Research), Paulette Lenert (Minister of Health), Gregor Baertz (LIH), Simone Niclou (University of Luxembourg), Romain Nati (CHL)

AI holds a huge potential in the healthcare field but its realisation faces challenges, notably in the data enabling context and the ability to build appropriate clinical studies. In this context, the Clinnova project, part of the National Centres of Excellence in Research (NCER) programme by the FNR, was conceived as a precision medicine initiative that tackles these challenges on three levels.

To date there is no straightforward method available to decide what drug to prescribe for what patient. With new drugs coming on the markets in a steady flow, this leaves physicians and patients with a concrete problem: the wrong therapy may extend the disease burden while invoking unnecessary cost on the social system. Here, on a first level, Clinnova focuses on generating benefits for patients and physicians in three concrete diseases, inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid diseases and multiple sclerosis. Clinnova will build prospective patient cohorts for these three diseases: With an emphasis on data quality and standardisation, the goal is to develop effective AI algorithms that can support physicians in prescribing the right drug to an individual patient at the right time. Furthermore, these data can accelerate translational research into disease causes, which can further affect patient care.

On the second level, Clinnova will bridge the worlds of biomedical research and healthcare by fostering critical infrastructure development in Luxembourg. It will undertake the necessary steps to assure data interoperability and integration in this infrastructure concept.

Finally, on the third level, Clinnova will federate precision health data across borders. The Clinnova team in Luxembourg has teamed up with universities and clinical centres in Baden-Württemberg in Germany, the Grand Est region in France, and the region of Basel in Switzerland to invest in similar Clinnova precision health programs, thereby linking the established IT infrastructures. In this vein, the Clinnova partners are building a federated precision health network across Europe.

Overall, AI-driven solutions for healthcare require both infrastructure investment and coordination between clinical institutions. As a collaborative effort between the Luxembourg Institute of Health, the four hospitals and the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine of the University of Luxembourg, Clinnova is ideally set up in Luxembourg to fulfill this mission. “With regards to health data, secure and responsible data management are of utmost importance. We are happy to contribute our longstanding expertise in these domains to the development of Clinnova,” explains Prof. Reinhard Schneider, principal investigator of the LCSB’s Bioinformatics Core and the Head of ELIXIR-Luxembourg node. Schneider and his team as well as the Biomedical Data Science group of Prof. Enrico Glaab will contribute to the data FAIRification, harmonisation and federation as well as the AI-based data analysis.

“We envision that in such a data-enabled environment, the translation and application of biomedical research towards patients and their unmet needs will become a seamless routine process,” says Dr Jasmin Schulz, chief coordinator of Clinnova at the LIH. The project’s stakeholders also believe that translational research initiatives focused on patients will evolve to become a major driver for fundamental research, thereby increasing the amount of therapeutic possibilities for patients in the future.

“We believe that Clinnova’s mission to utilise data science and AI to reshape healthcare aligns well with the national priorities of Luxembourg. The Ministry of Health fully supports this ambitious goal to become a leading digital economy and prioritise personalised medicine,” stated Paulette Lenert, Minister of Health.

On the national, trans-sectorial level, the Luxembourg National Data Service has been created as a catalyst for the national research and innovation ecosystem to fully utilise the potential of data. In this context, Clinnova was chosen as one of the use cases for the healthcare sector.

“By leveraging data federation, standardisation and interoperability, Clinnova is poised to foster AI-driven precision medicine at an unprecedented scale,” concluded Claude Meisch, Minister of Higher Education & Research.

About the FNR’s NCER programme

The National Centres of Excellence in Research (NCER) programme provides a structuring framework and funding instrument to bundle research excellence around a mission of significant societal relevance by encouraging high-level transdisciplinary research and inter-sectoral collaboration. NCER projects should become internationally recognised examples of best scientific practice, both with regards to the outcomes and impact of research, as well as in the way research is carried out.

NCER project funding runs for a maximum of 8 years, and has two main phases, with a milestone-based evaluation between phase I and phase II. In addition, there is a mandatory INITIATE “pre-phase” (focusing on co-design of the project) as well as an optional post-NCER (focusing on further development of the domain and knowledge utilisation).