VIB researchers join 3TR, the largest-ever Innovative Medicine Initiative 2 (IMI2) Immunology Project


This large-scale public-private research initiative will provide new insights into the response and non-response to treatment within seven different immune-mediated diseases. 3TR will use integrated, cross-disease analysis of the most state-of-the-art profiling technologies. 

Yvan Saeys

Tackling seven diseases at once

Autoimmune, inflammatory and allergic diseases are common chronic diseases that affect the wellbeing of millions of people around the globe. Different treatments are available, but the response to these, as well as the disease progression in individual patients, remain unpredictable. Currently, still too little is known about the molecular basis underpinning these diseases. 

A deeper understanding of the cellular mechanisms driving disease development is urgently needed. With this knowledge in hand, treatment response can be better predicted and novel biomarkers leading to improved patient management and personalised therapy can be identified. 

The diseases under scrutiny are all immune-mediated, allergic and inflammatory diseases: systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Recent studies have shown that these conditions share certain patterns on the molecular level. This suggests that they may also share pathways of response to treatment and disease progression.

Large-scale collaboration

With data of over 50.000 patients from across 50 clinical trials, the project seeks to uncover biomarkers that can be used to improve patient management. All data will be gathered on a centralised data management platform. This allows detailed, state-of-the-art bioinformatics and biostatistics analyses.

Prof. Yvan Saeys (VIB-UGent Center for Inflammation Research), say: "The 3TR project will generate a massive amount of patient data for many immune disorders.  Using novel data mining and machine learning techniques, we will be able to better characterize these diseases and define novel biomarkers and predictive models that are indicative of treatment response."

The project unites renowned, interdisciplinary experts from 69 academic and industrial partner institutions covering 15 European countries. This also involves patient groups, which provides an impetus to translate the newfound knowledge quickly into actionable benefits for patients.

3TR is funded with a total of over € 80 million over the next seven years by IMI2 – a joint undertaking of the European Union and the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA).

For more information on 3TR, please click here.