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GNS Healthcare Joins Orion Bionetworks to Develop Predictive Models for Multiple Sclerosis and Other Diseases

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., March 4, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- GNS Healthcare today announced that it has joined in the formation of Orion Bionetworks. This unique alliance will work to transform our understanding of and accelerate the drug development process for a wide variety of diseases, beginning with multiple sclerosis (MS). Using patient data from alliance members Accelerated Cure Project for Multiple Sclerosis, the Institute for Neurosciences at Brigham and Women's Hospital, and PatientsLikeMe, GNS will build powerful, predictive, computational models to yield new information about the disease, which will pave the way for more effective treatments for patients and the discovery of new therapies and cures. The initial phase of this effort is made possible by a $5.4 million commitment by Janssen Research & Development, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson.

Other crucial alliance groups include the Marin Community Foundation, MetaCell, and program sponsors and supporting partners One Mind for Research, Morrison & Foerster, Recombinant Data and Weber Shandwick. Through Orion Bionetworks, these alliance members will use cutting-edge technology to greatly expand our body of knowledge of diseases, prevention, and treatments.

"In order to leverage the power of computational modeling to predict health outcomes, you first need access to a large set of data to analyze, which is exactly what this multidisciplinary group will provide for us," said Iya Khalil , Executive Vice President and Co-Founder of GNS Healthcare. "Working from rich databases of over 7,000 people with MS, GNS will be able to integrate clinical, biomarker, and imaging data to develop a causal, computational model of MS that has the promise to yield new insights into the underlying biology, and guide the development of more personalized courses of treatment for patients."

Orion Bionetworks will employ GNS Healthcare's REFS™ (Reverse Engineering and Forward Simulation) platform to reverse engineer computational models from MS data provided by Brigham and Women's Hospital, Accelerated Cure Project and PatientsLikeMe. Supercomputers and their powerful data-crunching capabilities have the capacity to analyze and understand the huge amounts of patient outcomes data that exist within the healthcare system. GNS's platform will utilize the untapped potential of that data to advance our understanding of the disease by expanding access to valuable biological and clinical data and providing new ways to interact with and apply the data.  Results from millions of in silico simulations will provide new insights into the fundamental mechanisms of MS, by finding the underlying causal relationships in the data. This, in turn, will help optimize treatment plans for patients.

"MS is a complicated condition for physicians to treat because it has various disease stages and a wide number of treatments. Currently we cannot predict an individual patient's optimal treatment course, and there is no personalization in the selection of treatments," said Philip De Jager , MD, PhD, a physician researcher at the Institute for Neurosciences at Brigham and Women's Hospital. "By connecting all of the available, but underutilized data with the supercomputing power that is available today, we can gain new disease insights to help personalize existing treatments and develop new ones – ultimately helping patients. MS is uniquely ready for the new tools of predictive modeling, which can answer critical questions beyond the reach of individual research efforts."

Jamie Heywood , Co-Founder and Chairman of PatientsLikeMe, added, "It's an honor to be working with the GNS Healthcare team and the alliance members to share insights and learn across the disciplines. Together, we'll be able to study real patient experiences to advance our understanding of MS, and hopefully accelerate the development of effective treatments and better care." 

Additional information on the organization and partnership opportunities is available on the organization's website,

About GNS Healthcare

GNS Healthcare is a big data analytics company that has developed a scalable approach for the discovery of what works in healthcare, and for whom. Our analytics solutions are being applied across the healthcare industry: from pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, health plans and hospitals, to integrated delivery systems, pharmacy benefits managers, and accountable care organizations. REFS™ is GNS Healthcare's scalable, supercomputer-enabled framework for discovering new knowledge directly from data. REFS™ automates the discovery and extraction of causal network models from observational data and uses high-throughput simulations to generate new knowledge.

About Marin Community Foundation

The Marin Community Foundation (MCF) is based in Novato, Marin County, California.  With assets totaling nearly $1.5 billion, it is one of the largest community foundations in the United States. MCF has a long history of supporting neuroscience research and development, including the establishment and continuing support of the Buck Institute for  Research in Aging,  the nation's first independent research facility focused solely on understanding the connection between aging and chronic disease.

For more information on Marin Community Foundation, visit

About Janssen Research & Development

Janssen Research & Development, LLC, the sponsor of Orion Bionetwork's multiple sclerosis project, is focused on the discovery and development of innovative medicines that ease patients' suffering and solve important unmet medical needs. The company identifies the biggest unmet medical needs and matches them with the best science, internal or external, to find solutions for patients worldwide. Janssen is working to bring innovative, effective treatments in five therapeutic areas: cardiovascular and metabolism, immunology, infectious diseases and vaccines, neuroscience, and oncology. Janssen's interests in integrated care for brain diseases have a direct connection to the Janssen Healthy Minds program, launched in 2011 to encourage collaboration among biotechnology, pharmaceutical and public-sector organisations to accelerate the discovery of new therapeutic solutions for neurologic and brain diseases.

About Accelerated Cure Project for Multiple Sclerosis

ACP is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to accelerate efforts to improve the quality of life for people with multiple sclerosis (MS), to cure the disease and, ultimately, prevent it.

About Institute for Neurosciences at Brigham and Women's Hospital

The Institute for Neurosciences Brigham and Women's Hospital is a world-renowned leader in research into the mechanism of brain diseases and in developing innovative treatments for patients affected by a broad spectrum of neurologic and psychiatric diseases.

About MetaCell

MetaCell is a systems biology informatics and consulting company operating in the open science space. Its mission is to integrate and organize biophysical information into predictive computational models of living systems. By merging knowledge from different scales, MetaCell enables a greater understanding of complex biological systems through beautiful software interfaces.

About PatientsLikeMe

PatientsLikeMe is a patient network that improves lives and a real-time research platform that advances medicine. Through the network, patients connect with others who have the same disease or condition and track and share their own experiences. In the process, they generate data about the real-world nature of disease that help researchers, pharmaceutical companies, regulators, providers and nonprofits develop more effective products, services and care.

GNS Healthcare Inc.
Thomas A. Neyarapally, 617-494-0492
SVP, Corporate Development

Cory Tromblee
MacDougall Biomedical Communications

SOURCE GNS Healthcare
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