San Diego Team wins $ 6.9 million grant to establish PrecISE Network Clinical Center

A collaboration between La Jolla Institute and UC San Diego School of Medicine, the center will connect patients, clinicians and researchers to develop personalized treatments, find a cure for asthma

LA JOLLA, CA— A team of physicians, scientists and biostatisticians joined forces across institutions to successfully compete for an $6.9 million grant to establish one of only 10 PrecISE Network Clinical Centers nationwide.

The PrecISE (short for Precision Interventions for Severe and/or Exacerbation Prone Asthma) Network is an initiative funded by the National Institutes of Health/National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute to advance precision medicine for patients with severe and exacerbation-prone asthma. It brings together patients, clinicians and researchers to accelerate the development of individualized asthma treatments based on patient-specific disease markers.

Starting in early 2018, the PrecISE Clinical Center will begin recruiting asthma patients in an effort to collectively enroll 1,000 patients in the nationwide PrecISE clinical trial. The study will rely on extensive data collection and analysis to help refine interventions while the trial is still ongoing. Known as adaptive trial design, the PrecISE asthma trial platform represents a novel approach in asthma clinical research.
The San Diego-based team is led by Praveen Akuthota, M.D., Associate Clinical Professor in the Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine at UC San Diego School of Medicine; Pandurangan “Vijay” Vijayanand, M.D. Ph.D., William K. Bowes Distinguished Professor at La Jolla Institute for Immunology, and Sonia Jain, Ph.D., Professor of Biostatistics in the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health at UC San Diego School of Medicine.

From left to right: Dr. Praveen Akuthota, Dr. Pandurangan Vijayanand, Dr. Sonia Jain

Dr. Akuthota runs both an active laboratory where he studies asthma and a clinical practice at UC San Diego Health where he sees patients. He said caring for asthma patients serves as a constant reminder how frustrating it can be to get the disease under control: “It is more or less a guessing game. We just keep trying different things until we hit upon a drug or drug combination that works. We need to be able to predict who will benefit from a certain treatment so we can reliably control symptoms and prevent potentially lethal asthma attacks.”

Dr. Vijayanand’s research tries to do just that. His research team employs innovative genomic tools to distinguish different disease states in asthma and pave the way for patient-specific asthma treatments. “The technology we now have access to in the laboratory not only helps us to understand the fundamentals of this disease,” said Dr. Vijayanand, “we are now able to apply our results on an individual level.”

Dr. Jain proposed the design for the adaptive clinical trial platform and will lead the center’s quantitative effort on design development and the analysis of the various types of data that will be generated in these multi-year adaptive trials. She will also play an integral role within the PrecISE Network’s ten centers to help fine-tune successive stages of the adaptive clinical trials. “It is exciting to be directly involved in creating an innovative clinical trial infrastructure that will yield important efficacy and safety data on novel asthma interventions,” says Dr. Jain, “I look forward to participating in this work and seeing how it directly impacts asthma patients.”

About La Jolla Institute
La Jolla Institute for Immunology is dedicated to understanding the intricacies and power of the immune system so that we may apply that knowledge to promote human health and prevent a wide range of diseases. Since its founding in 1988 as an independent, nonprofit research organization, the Institute has made numerous advances leading towards its goal: life without disease®.