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AI and genetics underpin project to speed up CVD diagnosis and personalise treatment

A new international project aiming to use artificial intelligence (AI) and genomics data to personalise therapies for patients with cardiovascular disease (CVD) has been announced.

The Next Generation Tools for Genome-Centric Multimodal Data Integration in Personalised Cardiovascular Medicine (NextGen) project aims to build AI-supported novel and synergistic tools to enable portable multimodal, multiomic and clinically oriented research in high-impact areas of cardiovascular medicine.

The tools will benefit researchers, innovators and healthcare professionals by identifying and overcoming health data linkage barriers in exemplar cardiovascular use cases that are complex or intractable with existing technology.

The ultimate goal is to provide faster diagnosis and better, more personalised treatments for patients while capitalising on increasing innovations and trends in AI technology.

The NextGen project will be delivered by a 21-member consortium of academic, clinical, technical and commercial partners from across Europe and the US, including the European Society for Cardiology, and led by University Medical Center (UMC) Utrecht and Queen Mary University of London.

Project coordinator Professor Pim van der Harst, interventional cardiologist and head of the department of cardiology at the UMC Utrecht, said: ‘No two people are exactly the same, and so it makes sense that each person needs a slightly different strategy to optimise their health. Personalised medicine is, therefore, the way forward for preventing heart disease, speeding up diagnosis, and monitoring and treating people with CVD.

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‘To develop individualised therapies, we need to compile as much information as possible about individuals, and that’s where NextGen comes in. The unique picture we generate will then form the basis for improving cardiovascular health and wellbeing.’

Several real-world pilots will demonstrate the effectiveness of NextGen tools and will be integrated in the NextGen Pathfinder network of five collaborating clinical sites as a self-contained data ecosystem and comprehensive proof of concept.

The work will complement the ‘1+ Million Genomes’ initiative, which aims to enable secure access to genomics and clinical data across Europe, and the European Health Data Space – a European Commission governance framework for the safe and secure exchange, use and reuse of health data.

Consortium member Professor Panos Deloukas, professor of cardiovascular genomics and dean for Life Sciences at Queen Mary University of London’s William Harvey Research Institute, added: ‘This is a tremendous opportunity and a challenge we have in building the right toolbox that will allow [us] to unite CVD patient data across Europe and implement precision medicine to improve cardiovascular healthcare.’

The NextGen project has received €7.6 million from the EU’s Horizon Europe programme.

In August 2023, a genetic study revealed how the use of clopidogrel in British patients of south Asian ancestry appears to be less effective at preventing recurrent myocardial infarction than in those of European descent.

And earlier in 2023, single cell and spatial genomics combined with computational techniques were used to develop a comprehensive Heart Cell Atlas to better understand the heart and how it responds to treatments.