Media Coverage

1Data could be just the spark that One Health partnerships needed

Sep 07, 2017 - Animal Pharm
By Joseph Harvey
Animal Pharm
September 7, 2017

In June, Kansas State University teamed up with the University of Missouri-Kansas City to establish 1Data – an initiative aimed at accelerating innovation in animal health. Animal Pharm met two of the experts behind this data-driven project in downtown Kansas City.

"I'm a molecular geneticist and evolutionary biologist," Dr Gerald Wyckoff told Animal Pharm. "I see things as maps and relationships."

This is possible why he – along with his colleagues – was able to see the gap in the marketplace for what he calls "a clearing house for data".

Dr Wyckoff is professor of molecular biology and biochemistry at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Together with Jim Riviere, distinguished professor emeritus at Kansas State University's College of Veterinary Medicine, he will oversee 1Data – a project that gets right to the heart of One Health.

This initiative is attempting to take the pre-clinical data lost to the confines of filing cabinets throughout research labs the length of the country and make information available to interested partners on both sides of the human-animal health space.

Dr Wyckoff pointed out: "The more you look, people are working in One Health. They just don't seem to know it."

On the launch of the initiative in June, Dr Riviere said: "Right now, research labs and human and animal health companies are all doing the exact same trials with the same animal patients, but they're not sharing the data and learning from it to help with future trials. Re-doing the same study or part of a study over and over wastes time, money and involves unnecessary animal models. We would like to change that."

Another supporter of the initiative is Dr Ralph Richardson, who is dean and chief executive at K-State's Olathe campus – the home of 1Data and somewhere that has built up deep expertise in handling 'big data'.

Dr Richardson said to Animal Pharm: "A start-up company's trial fails and all that data is just cut. Where does it go? Nowhere. We want to take all that human pre-clinical data and the animal pre-clinical data and throw it all together in one batch, shorten the time to market and reduce the cost to the end user. Investors don't want to keep spending on drug development that keep running into the same walls. We can deal with these issues in drug development."

The 1Data project intends to develop a coherent environment whereby it can disseminate useful pre-clinical information. It will aim to help researchers simulate the design of animal models used in trials and identify any potential congruencies between human and animal diseases.

Dr Wyckoff hopes the "matrix of data" will improve the quality of both veterinary and human medicine by enhancing the opportunities for collaboration across both fields. The growing 1Data catalogue of information is designed to establish a new standard for analyzing cross-species health information, while also aiming to cut the cost of drug development.

"We have to build enough structure around the database to make it useful," Dr Wyckoff said. "Our researchers know how to use it but we need to make it user-friendly, so those who don't know how to use it can access the data easily.

"We want to get as much data as we can from animal health and human health companies and groups. Then we can create a backing structure where users can clearly pull out the data they need. This way, we can empower studies.

"If I ask four or five students to find the congruent genes between human asthma and bovine respiratory distress, it would take them six months. With 1Data, you can ask that question and get an answer in an afternoon."

Simulating trial results

Dr Richardson pointed out the US FDA rules for bringing a drug to market remain unchanged in decades. The 1Data project's ability to simulate trials in a virtual environment could help to ease the burden of these long-standing guidelines. The FDA has already shown interest in the 1Data approach, Dr Wyckoff noted.

"Lots of drugs fail at scale-up," Dr Wyckoff stated. "The drug might work in a few animals but it fails because it doesn't work in all of the animals."

To demonstrate its ability to de-risk studies, the initiative aims to take data from approved drugs and simulate a clinical trial. Then, the 1Data outcomes can be compared to the actual trial results.

Boosting One Health collaborations

But is there any interest in publishing information related to failed trials?

Dr Wyckoff answered: "We have to create the environment and create the incentive to have those failed trials published. It's something that needs to happen. We've already had plenty of interest. Everyone has a lot to gain from it."

One Health crossover work is limited at the moment. While animal health companies already mine canine data from trials in human health, this transfer of information happens infrequently.

"There is a lack of awareness and interest from both parties," said Dr Wyckoff. "We need to make people aware of the opportunities. There are scale issues. Animal health is a lot smaller than human health. This is problematic when a market might be worth $10 million in the animal health marketplace but $2 billion over in the human health arena."

Urging researchers and companies to expand their horizons, Dr Richardson added: "In western medicine, we get into our own silo. That's the way it is. For example, orthopedic surgeons that specialize in shoulders and that's all they focused on."

Dr Wyckoff also said 1Data has to take into account security issues and make significant steps to ensure trial information is well protected.

The next step for 1Data is to seek more grants. This will help it add two more people to its current team of five and scale-up its database.

Support for the project

1Data has already received significant support from the animal health community. Elanco has provided funding, while Aratana Therapeutics has provided its trial data. Other partners include Children's Mercy Hospital, University of Kansas Medical Center, St Luke's Health System's Mid America Heart Institute, Cerner, MRIGlobal and Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute (KCALSI), among others.

Dr Wyckoff said locally, the concept of One Health is prospering. Kansas City has a great number of assets in both veterinary medicine – with the Kansas City Animal Health Corridor – and the human health field.

Wayne Carter, the president and chief executive of KCALSI, pointed out the number of local start-ups working at the nexus of animal health and human health, including Likarda, HylaPharm and ELIAS Animal Health.

"There are so many business opportunities that come out of the 1Data approach," he said.

Dr Wyckoff replied: "There are 288 genes that have near-exact congruence between animal and human health. That means there are 288 business opportunities for One Health. We don't want to be a silent partner; we want to be a gregarious partner.

"The data has always been there; we just need to know how to use it." 

Reprinted with permission of Animal Pharm News




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