AI could personalise treatment for psoriasis patients

A Newcastle researcher has received funding to investigate how artificial intelligence (AI) could predict the effectiveness of psoriasis treatments for individual patients.

Dr Amaani Hussain specialises in Dermatology at Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and is a Clinical Research Fellow at Newcastle University. She has been awarded a Clinical Research Training Fellowship from the Medical Research Council (MRC) to understand the application  of AI to predict how individual patients could respond to biologic systemic therapy.

 

Biologic treatments target specific parts of the immune system and are given by injection or IV infusion – they are different from traditional drugs, which impact the entire immune system.  By using data from a large UK-based psoriasis registry, Dr Hussain’s research explores the application of AI to personalise the selection of these biologic therapies in psoriasis. This means that patients will receive personalised care catered for their individual experiences with psoriasis, resulting in better outcomes for patients on a whole.

 

Dr Hussain will conduct her research at Newcastle University, collaborating with Manchester University and the Queen Mary University of London Alan Turing Institute.

 

Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Newcastle University are both part of Newcastle Health Innovation Partners (NHIP). NHIP is one of eight prestigious Academic Health Science Centres (AHSCs) across the UK, bringing together partners to deliver excellence in research, health education and patient care.

 

This research project will improve psoriasis patient care and potentially the care of patients with other diseases, through wider application of the methodology developed. It has the potential to radically change the management of psoriasis with biologic therapies. Choosing the most effective and safe biologic drug early for an individual patient facilitates personalised care and improves patient outcomes and associated NHS costs. Wider application would be to a range of diseases where large datasets exist.

Commenting on the reasoning behind her research project, Dr Hussain said:

“Witnessing the enormous psychological, physical and social burden of this disease during my clinical work, I could see the major need to personalise treatment options for this group of patients.

“By allocating 90 percent of my time to my research project whilst maintaining 10 percent dedicated to psoriasis biologics clinic, I can ensure my research maintains relevance for patient care.”

 

This research, like most, relies heavily on patient and public involvement and engagement (PPIE).

Dr Hussain will incorporate PPIE into this research through the formation of a psoriasis patient group which will contribute and influence the direction of research she will carry out. This will be done alongside collaborating with other relevant patient groups through the NIHR AI-MULTIPLY grant.

 

Speaking on the importance of being involved in research, Dr Hussain said:

As a dermatologist, I care for patients with psoriasis and this clinical work has enabled me to identify an important area of research with the aim of improving patient care. Being a clinical academic ensures that research within this area is relevant, and that the most important questions are being addressed.

“From a personal standpoint, being involved in research adds variety to a career in medicine. It is challenging in a distinct way to clinical medicine and provides satisfaction, often preceded by some frustration, when pursuing the answers to previously unanswered questions and gaining new skills whilst doing so.”

 

NHIP Academy

In the early stages of her application, Dr Hussain reached out to Professor Dave Jones, NHIP Academy Director, for advice. NHIP Academy unlocks career development opportunities for the next generation of health and care researchers.

Discussing her experience with the Academy, she said:

“NHIP Academy was excellent in providing support throughout my application process.

“Professor Dave Jones and Dr Amy Brown provided me with guidance on my written application, put me in contact with relevant academics to review it, organised mock interviews and even provided me with a place to carry out a remote interview.”

 

Dr Amy Brown, NHIP Academy Manager, said:

 

“It was an honour to provide Dr Hussain with the guidance she required during her application. This research area impacts such a significant number of people and we are keen to see how the outcomes of this project will result in better care for patients”

“It is always a pleasure to follow clinical academics on their research career pathway and we are delighted that she has been awarded this fellowship. We look forward to continuing our support throughout the different stages of this research journey.”

 

Dr Hussain’s advice

“Get as much input from as many people as possible, from a wide range of backgrounds, specialties and those at varying stages of their academic career. Give yourself enough time and get in touch with NHIP Academy early!”

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