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The University of Southampton

£70 million initiative to personalise autoimmune, inflammation and allergy treatment

Published: 30 October 2019
3TR is a major initiative bringing together 69 partner organisations from 15 European member states.

Southampton researchers are set to be part of an €80 million (£70 million) initiative aiming to better target treatments for the millions worldwide living with autoimmune, inflammatory or allergic diseases.

These three conditions impact the wellbeing of millions of people around the globe, placing major cost and resource strains on healthcare systems.

Although many different treatments are available, each person’s response varies greatly and is unpredictable, with too little known about these conditions at the molecular level.

Now 3TR, a world-first public-private initiative, aims to identify new ‘biomarkers’ (molecules associated with a disease or response to treatment) and molecular pathways, to predict and measure peoples’ responses to different treatments for seven different diseases.

3TR brings together experts from across medical disciplines, profiling technology, systems biology and bioinformatics, plus specialists from innovative bioscience firms and leading pharmaceutical companies.

Together they will work to better understand the molecular basis of systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease (including ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease), asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Recent studies have shown that certain patterns at the molecular level are shared by people living with these different diseases, suggesting they may also share common responses to treatments and patterns of disease progression.

“By working with large numbers of new patients across Europe, combining their medical records, molecular and microbiological profiles with data from patients already part of research data, 3TR will give us a picture big enough and detailed enough to unpick what predicts disease progression and treatment response,” explains University of Southampton Professor Ratko Djukanovic, respiratory consultant and Southampton co-lead for the study.

All data will be gathered on a central system, allowing detailed and comprehensive analysis for new molecular patterns and pathways using state-of-the-art bioinformatics and biostatistics methods. Through close working with clinical services and patient groups, 3TR aims to rapidly translate this knowledge and project outcomes into clinical benefit.

“Treatment is currently very much on a trial-and-error basis, informed by a doctor’s experience that presents challenges for their wellbeing and for managing progression of their symptoms. 3TR offers the prospect of evidence-based tests that accurately predict whether a drug will work for someone or not,” comments Professor Graham Roberts, consultant in paediatric allergy and Southampton co-lead for the study.

3TR brings together 69 partner organisations from 15 European member states including academic and research institutions, small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) and pharmaceutical companies. For a full partner list, please visit:

The project is supported with a funding of over € 80 million from the Innovative Medicines Initiative 2 (IMI2), a joint undertaking of the European Commission and the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA).

Source: Press release issued by University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust


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