Metabolon joins international obesity research consortium

11 August 2020
Image: Mateus Campos Felipe

Metabolon has joined a $20 million EU-supported international research consortium.

SOPHIA (Stratification of Obese Phenotypes to Optimize Future Obesity Therapy), which includes 29 private and public research organisations in 12 countries, aims to improve risk assessment of complications of obesity and predict treatment response for people with obesity.

The World Health Organization estimates that obesity currently affects around 650 million people worldwide. There are about 200 known complications associated with obesity but predicting who will develop associated conditions or who will respond to obesity treatments is not yet understood. The SOPHIA consortium will identify, characterize and stratify clinically meaningful subpopulations of patients living with obesity to match the right treatment for the right person at the right time.

“While two individuals may have the same BMI, they will often respond differently to treatments like diet, drugs or surgery,” said Greg Michelotti, Scientific Director, Metabolon. “Our global approach to metabolomics will illuminate disease biomarkers, supporting proper stratification and therapeutic decisions to improve future outcomes for obese patients.”

Metabolon will perform metabolomics on 2,000 samples as part of the five-year longitudinal study to support greater understanding in patient stratification for the right treatment depending on metabolic profiles.

SOPHIA will provide evidence-based classification of predictors for obesity complications and response to obesity treatment while also identifying and charting models for sustainably developing treatment pathways that will be valuable for patients, healthcare systems, researchers and clinicians.

“Our mission within SOPHIA is to enable healthcare professionals to reliably predict the complications of obesity and who will respond to treatment,” said Prof. Carel le Roux, coordinator of SOPHIA and obesity physician at the Diabetes Complications Research Centre at University College Dublin.

SOPHIA Project Leader Dr Marianne Ølholm Larsen Grønning of Novo Nordisk, said: “Obesity is a complex, chronic disease and there is still a lot we do not know, both about the biology of the disease itself and how treatment can improve the lives of patients with obesity. SOPHIA is an important step towards understanding obesity better. The collaboration between academia, industry and associations promises strong and unique results.”

The voices of people living with obesity will be at the heart of SOPHIA through the establishment of a Patient Advisory Board. It will ensure that patients’ insights, opinions and wishes are placed at the core of SOPHIA and interwoven into the multiple layers of the study. The research group will use its findings to contribute to a more patient-centric and equitable narrative around obesity and its multiple impacts on individuals from both a social and medical perspective. It all starts with obesity being a chronic disease, not something people choose to live with.

SOPHIA will also investigate health outcomes in people with obesity who have type 1 diabetes. According to Dr Sanjoy Dutta, JDRF Vice President of Research, “With the statistical power afforded by such a large European collaboration, we will be able to investigate the two-way relationship between obesity and type 1 diabetes and ultimately be able to make valid predictions about health outcomes in this traditionally underappreciated population. Since recent epidemiological data indicate that nearly half of adults with T1D in some European countries have overweight or obesity, it is critical for the T1D community to address this challenge.”

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