The consortium activities have been organized in eight work packages with clearly defined objectives and responsibilities for each specific partner. All project management activities will be conducted as part of WP7, including communication and dissemination activities and the coordination of the patient board (PB).
Explore our Work Packages in detail by clicking the respective WP
WP1 - Clinical Research Network, Epidemiology, and Genetics: bringing the experts and the information (data and samples) together
The BIOMAP consortium will bring together scientists and clinicians to collaborate and share clinical data, molecular data, and samples of biological material such as blood, tissue, cells or DNA. Forming this network is the first crucial task for WP1, and will enable all of the BIOMAP partners to speak the same clinical and scientific language, analyse datasets, and work towards the same, patient-focussed goals.
A second main task for WP1 is mapping the data available in all the studies of the BIOMAP consortium. This information will be available to researchers through a web-based portal. It will also be used alongside what has already been published in the literature and input from patients, clinicians, scientists and industry to reach consensus on terms, their meanings and which aspects of disease development, progression and treatment response are the most important to focus on. We expect these activities to exploit the full potential of the collection of sets of information (datasets) and facilitate a uniform approach to data analyses.
The other main area of work in WP1 aims to better understand the patterns of disease and how genetic and environmental factors influence the changes in people’s health or quality of life that result from their clinical care (“clinical outcomes”). People with psoriasis and Atopic Dermatitis can suffer poor overall health, being at higher risk of several other diseases (“comorbidities”). We will use electronic health record data to identify common and previously unrecognised comorbidities, which will aid both clinical management and our knowledge of disease biology.
WP2 - Bioinformatics and Data Modeling Core: working out formulas that predict the development and progression of disease overtime for different groups of people
To make the database compiled by WP1 accessible to researchers, we need a suitable infrastructure and tools for data collection, integration and analysis. Providing these is the main objective of WP2. We will establish, populate, and maintain a robust and secure data management and analysis system, in which we will collect and manage the shared information about groups of patients (“cohorts”). Through harmonization and analysis of the data from patient cohort studies, we will develop and refine definitions of disease subtypes (sub-groups within one disease) and establish new models of diagnostic and prognostic of AD & psoriasis; these “models” will be the combinations of multiple factors (like formulas) that predict the development and likely progression of each disease subtype. This will help us understand the mechanisms of the diseases and translate this knowledge into therapies that fit the individual needs of every patient.
WP3 – Tissue-based Signatures and Pathways: the molecules and processes at play in the start and progression of each disease subtype – The role of molecules
A key concept of the BIOMAP project is that there are many ways in which certain molecules in the body contribute to the development and progression of AD and Psoriaris. Indeed, AD and psoriasis are heterogeneous (they are not the same for every patient) and comprise a variety of subtypes, which may share common characteristics but arise from distinct causes and processes (driver mechanisms). The work of WP3 aims to identify distinct disease subtypes based on their biology by evaluating large-scale data from the analysis of patient blood and skin samples, generating various types of diseases based on their molecular characteristics (“molecular disease profiles”). Disease subtypes will also be linked to relevant clinical outcomes, such as the efficacy of treatments for each subtype (“responses to therapies”). Further, by analysing molecular and clinical data over time, WP3 will search for reliable sets of molecules and predictors of each disease subtype (“stable signatures and markers”) which reflect the diseases as such alongside those which relate to certain states of the diseases (for instance: remission, flares, etc.), their progression and response to therapy (“dynamic signatures”). Finally, WP3 will bring together prior knowledge and newly generated insights to create comprehensive maps of disease causes and mechanisms. Outcomes from WP3 may help to identify new treatments and to target existing treatments to patients with specific disease subtypes.
WP4 - Host-microbiome interactions: the role of our bodies’ microbes
Microbial factors (i.e. relating to microorganisms or microbes, which are microscopic organisms, especially bacteria that may cause diseases) are important triggers of both atopic dermatitis and psoriasis; understanding the role of skin and gut microbiomes, defined as the combined genetic makeup of the microorganisms present on the skin or in the gut, is critical for the understanding of both diseases. Microbes might even be among the main factors causing atopic dermatitis, indicating potential for more investigations to improve diagnostic and therapies. The main objectives of WP4 are to understand the role of skin and gut microbiomes in disease subtypes, to understand how skin and gut microbiomes interact with “host” factors to contribute to disease development and progression (host factors are the traits of an individual person that may makes them more susceptible to disease in comparison to other individuals). Moreover, WP4 aims to identify “microbial signatures”, i.e. the groups of microbes related to specific disease characteristics and that predict diagnostic (development) and prognostic (likely progression) of the disease.
WP5 - Immune Cell Phenotypes and Signatures - the role of the immune system
While our immune system protects us from harmful pathogens (all microorganisms that can cause disease), a body’s faulty immune response can also lead to a variety of diseases, including skin disorders. Novel technological developments now allow in-depth analysis and comparison of the immune system in health and disease. In WP5 our aim is to take advantage of this opportunity to determine which changes in the immune system are associated with atopic dermatitis and psoriasis. In the last decade there has been a technological revolution in the way we study and target specific types of cells, we can now understand how individual cells are programmed, function and interact with each other. We will apply this technology to the analysis of cells in diseased skin tissue. First, we will carry out a detailed analysis of a limited number of biopsies from patients with specific characteristics to determine the features of the immune system that are associated with the diseases. These results will subsequently be checked by replicating them in a larger group of patients to create a solid basis for future work aimed at developing new treatments.
WP6 - Biomarker Characterization and Verification
WP6 will gather and organise the data from all of the other WPs; first, to generate lists of potential biomarkers (any biological entity or group of entities that is an indicator or predictor of a disease state resulting from the above research) for atopic dermatitis and psoriasis, and second, to design and check further their validity. Together with WP1, the WP6 team will screen all studies that have been published about factors that help to diagnose or assess severity of psoriasis or atopic dermatitis, as well as factors that might help to understand which therapy is the best for an individual patient.
WP7- Project Management and Dissemination
WP7 will provide overall leadership and coordination and a clear organisational framework. We will provide guidance and support to all partners of the BIOMAP project through effective communication structures. Proper project communication will guarantee transparency for the consortium partners while promoting and sharing the project’s progress with the scientific community. The aim of WP7 is to enable a smooth project workflow, ensuring that all contractual commitments are met on time and thus maximise the effectiveness of project activities and achievement of project results through scientific and administrative coordination.
WP8 - Ethics
In addition to BIOMAP’s goals of identifying distinct disease subtypes based on their individual biology and understanding the underlying causes and mechanisms of skin diseases, the project seeks to contribute to the development of international legislation and regulation guidance to support other research partnerships. Work done in WP8 will contribute to improve the development of best practices and industry standards in international data sharing under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). WP8 work will also ensure the BIOMAP Project itself and data sharing activities of the Project are GDPR-compliant.
Later in the course of the project, WP8 will develop preliminary policy recommendations regarding the creation of subtypes of patients with skin disease in European healthcare systems, and the implementation of precise clinical care based on each patient’s individual biological characteristics.