Crowdsourcing, the practice of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people, is a relatively new approach to solving problem. With today's technology, it is easier to apply crowdsourcing to more and more complex problems-like improving the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
The Arthritis Foundation is sponsoring the Sage Bionetworks' (a non-profit research organization working to redefine how complex biological data is gathered, shared and used) Rheumatoid Arthritis Responder DREAM Challenge that is intended to crowdsource human genetics with the ultimate objective of identifying genetic predictors that could improve treatment for those suffering from RA.
“The Rheumatoid Arthritis Responder Challenge represents a unique interaction among an international team of researchers from academics and industry who share a common goal: improve the lives of patients with a debilitating form of arthritis,” said Director of Genetics & Genomics at Brigham & Women's Hospital, Dr. Robert Plenge. “We will make complex genetic and genomic datasets available to researchers from across the world through a unique computing platform developed by Sage Bionetworks. By leveraging the power of the crowd, we hope to solve a vexing clinical problem about predicting which patients will respond to an expensive and potentially dangerous medication, anti-TNF therapy."
A unique component of the Rheumatoid Arthritis Responder Challenge is the diversity of participation across a number of groups from academic institutions, private foundations and for-profit companies. The funding and support to carry out the Challenge and to support Sage Bionetworks’ cloud-based data analysis platform (Synapse) where the Challenge will take place, derives from the Arthritis Foundation and several major pharmaceutical companies. Additional support for the Challenge comes from data and samples contributed by the Consortium of Rheumatology Researchers of North America, Inc. (CORRONA), the National Institutes of Health Pharmacogenomics Research Network (PGRN), the Broad Institute, and academic researchers from across the world. For example, CORRONA is providing unique clinical samples from a prospective study of rheumatoid arthritis patients treated with anti-TNF therapy, and the PGRN is supporting the genotyping of these samples for the Challenge itself.
The Challenge will open on February 10, 2014 and complete later this Spring. Those interested to participate can register and apply for data access approval on Synapse, Sage Bionetworks’ cloud-based open compute platform and collaborative workspace. The first phase of the challenge is a discovery phase in which teams use the data to build genetic predictors of response to anti-TNF therapy. The second phase is a validation assessment in which challenge participants’ predictive models will be tested against a rheumatoid arthritis data set (from CORRONA). The team with the most highly predictive model in the validation assessment will be deemed the “winner.” The results of the challenge will be published in a highlighted article as a collaborative effort with Nature Genetics. The winning classifier will potentially be used to drive a prospective clinical trial with materials and data collected through the Arthritis Internet Registry.
"Sage Bionetworks/DREAM are delighted to be in lockstep on this challenge with the Arthritis Foundation,” said President of Sage Bionetworks, Dr. Stephen Friend. “Their support for a prospective clinical trial to evaluate the winning model highlights the Arthritis Foundation’s leading role in the development of impactful, precision medicine approaches to health."
For More Information
- Register for the Challenge and read details on how to participate.
- Read more about the RA Challenge in an article from the journal Nature Genetics.
- See the blog from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
- See the YouTube video of the entire event. Dr. Friend's (remarks are at the 27 min 40 sec mark.)
- Watch Dr. Friend's Ted Talk on Crowdsourcing Ideas.