NIH launches big data portal for Alzheimer’s research

NIH launches big data portal for Alzheimer’s research

The National Institutes of Health announced a big data portal to speed the development of predictive models and effective therapies for Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

The new data sharing and analysis web portal is an initiative of the Accelerating Medicines Partnership (AMP) – a joint effort among NIH, 10 biopharmaceutical companies and several nonprofit organizations  –to discover novel, clinically relevant treatments and to develop biomarkers to help validate existing therapies.

Developed by Sage Bionetworks, a Seattle-based non-profit promoting open science, the AMP AD Knowledge Portal will house big data that  the multidisciplinary academic groups will generate over the five years of the program. The teams will use big data analytics to integrate molecular and clinical data from over 2,000 postmortem brain samples.

The portal is built on Sage's Synapse infrastructure, an informatics data platform where data can be stored, accessed and collaboratively analyzed.

Although the focus now is to gather the datasets and make them available in their native formats, Sage told GenomeWeb it plans to go through the individual studies and standardize the datasets so that all the analysts can more readily use it.

“We are determined to reduce the cost and time it takes to discover viable therapeutic targets and bring new diagnostics and effective therapies to people with Alzheimer’s. That demands a new way of doing business,” said NIH Director Francis S. Collins. “The AD initiative of AMP is one way we can revolutionize Alzheimer’s research and drug development by applying the principles of open science to the use and analysis of large and complex human datasets.”

Data may be used by the research community immediately and is not under embargo of any kind, NIH said. The content of the portal can be accessed through the site’s web interface or directly through analytical clients using the R, python, Java or command line clients.

Because no publication embargo is imposed on the use of the data once it is posted to the AMP-AD Knowledge Portal, it increases the transparency, reproducibility and translatability of basic research discoveries, according to Suzana Petanceska, NIA’s program director leading the AMP-AD Target Discovery Project.

“The era of big data and open science can be a game-changer in our ability to choose therapeutic targets for Alzheimer’s that may lead to effective therapies tailored to diverse patients,” Petanceska said. “Simply stated, we can work more effectively together than separately.”

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