Understanding different obesity trajectories and their impact on health: Insights from SOPHIA principal investigators

Is it possible to generate data and tools that ensure better treatment for those who experience obesity?

Principal Investigators of a SOPHIA Working Group on obesity trajectories shared their insights on how modeling these trajectories may assist in risk prediction – and ultimately pave the way for better and more personalized treatment.

Obesity is complex, and trajectories are unique

Principal investigator, Ewan Pearson from University of Dundee, explains the importance of weight trajectories in obesity research and care:

“We should not just consider the patient’s weight at a specific moment in time. We must look at weight over time. Bringing prior trajectories of weight into risk prediction allows for a better understanding of the dynamic which may ensure better treatment and outcome for the individual patients.”

This critical work in SOPHIA is focused on understanding obesity trajectories – through natural history, lifestyle, and pharmaceutical interventions with people both with and without diabetes. By identifying these unique trajectories, the work group hopes to gain insights into the characteristics that define individual trajectories and identify how this can be used to aid prognosis and predict future outcomes.

Impacting healthcare pathways for better risk prediction

A key finding is that everyone has their own individual weight trajectory, and that obesity should be treated and managed accordingly – the better we become at modelling and predicting, the better we can be at guiding patients.

This Working Group emphasizes the rewarding connection to the SOPHIA partners in reaching the project’s objectives. The combined analysis across industry, academia, and patient organizations is critical to reach the ambitious mission of SOPHIA: to enable healthcare professionals to reliably predict the complications of obesity and who will respond to treatment.

 

SOPHIA has received funding from the Innovative Medicines Initiatives in 2 Joint Undertaking under grant agreement No. 875534. This Joint Undertaking support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program and EFPIA – European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations, T1D Exchange, JDRF International, and Obesity Action Coalition through the Innovative Health Initiative (IHI).

What if we could use the patient’s own perspectives and motivations surrounding obesity to help improve their health outcomes?

Ascertaining the Patients’ perspectives is a crucial part of understanding the impact of their obesity on them and can inform us as to how best to provide care for those affected by the disease. A recent SOPHIA publication highlights the importance of patient voices in obesity research. The study found that many patients with obesity complications do not feel heard by their primary healthcare providers, and they feel that they lack the knowledge necessary to make informed decisions about their treatment options. Additionally, they reported that they would like to have a closer interaction with their healthcare professionals to facilitate an in-depth discussion of their options to treat this complex disease.

Access and cost are prohibiting the best obesity care for patients

One of the main findings of the study was the identification of access to and costs of treatment options as key influencers on a patient’s choice of treatment. Corresponding author, Hilary C. Craig, explains:

Respondents in this study highlighted access, cost and a lack of knowledge as key factors that influence their decisions on obesity treatment.  In addition, they reported the fear of side effects of treatments as well as a perception of not being heard by health care professionals as key influences in their decisions. Future solutions may include HCPs creating educational programmes and information platforms for patients to improve health literacy about the complexities of obesity and its complications as well as  the expansion of obesity treatment options–with proven health economic benefits–to ensure equitable, society-wide access to disease management and support.”

How we resolve the lack of knowledge: Using the patient voice to achieve better understanding

The SOPHIA partnership aims to address these challenges by putting the patient voice at the center; an approach that has, thus far, been rare in obesity research. Patient-centric care is about putting the patient at the centre of decisions about their care, educating them on their options, allaying their fears and ensuring equitable access to appropriate healthcare. Hilary C. Craig elaborates:

“The SOPHIA research project demonstrates the value of patient centered care which is something that is lacking for people with obesity. The project enables patients to contribute, helping us to understand any factors limiting their attempts at managing their health, allows HCPs to identify any concerns they have regarding their disease and associated treatment and gives the HCPs the opportunity to discuss each patient’s case with them in detail.”

A better understanding of patient preferences may impact on treatment planning, make interventions more effective and reduce costs, ultimately creating better healthcare pathways for patients.

Are you curious about the patients’ perspective on obesity care?

Read the SOPHIA publication online here: Patient perspectives about treatment preferences for obesity with complications, or find the complete PDF via this link.

 

SOPHIA has received funding from the Innovative Medicines Initiatives in 2 Joint Undertaking under grant agreement No. 875534. This Joint Undertaking support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program and EFPIA – European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations, T1D Exchange, JDRF International, and Obesity Action Coalition through the Innovative Health Initiative (IHI).

How SOPHIA is unlocking the predictors of obesity treatment and risk

Are you looking for an easy read to better understand the impact of SOPHIA and our approach to obesity care? We are excited to share a new e-publication that features a profile of SOPHIA, published by Innovation News Network. This profile provides a concise yet comprehensive overview of the major objectives and current published results from SOPHIA. In this four-page profile, you will find discussions of our federated health database, personalized weight loss prediction, tools for stratification, the inclusion of the patient voice.

The e-publication also includes quotes from SOPHIA researchers and references to some of our key publications.

Amplifying the important work of SOPHIA

The SOPHIA project is focused on addressing the complex and multifaceted nature of obesity.  Our future vision is that we will be able to select participants who are likely to progress most rapidly through the disease process or who are likely to respond well to the targeted intervention. This will take us one step closer to identifying the right treatment for the right patient at the right time – and transform the approach to obesity care and management worldwide.

This approach involves both the patient perspective and the use of advanced data analytics and machine learning to identify predictors of obesity treatment. We are happy to support improved patient outcomes and to share this important message with the broader audience of the e-publication – we look forward to expanding the story of SOPHIA as new results are discovered and published!

Read the profile to better understand how we utilize machine learning and federated health data to change the narrative around obesity!

Find the profile on page 392 of the e-publication, in the online article available here, or in this pdf containing the 4-page profile ready for download: SOPHIA profile in Innovation News Network.

 

SOPHIA has received funding from the Innovative Medicines Initiatives in 2 Joint Undertaking under grant agreement No. 875534. This Joint Undertaking support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program and EFPIA – European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations, T1D Exchange, JDRF International, and Obesity Action Coalition through the Innovative Health Initiative (IHI).

SOPHIA congratulates the recently launched IHI Public-Private Partnership iCARE4CVD for making an impressive start!

The SOPHIA consortium wants to extend a big congratulation to all iCARE4CVD members. We are thrilled to see the progress that this critical project is making within the cardiovascular disease area, and excited to follow their innovative research on mapping and predicting disease trajectories with key biomarkers.

SOPHIA representatives participated in the great kick-off in Copenhagen, and we were delighted to see that so many of our project partners and objectives overlap.

SOPHIA to maximize the synergies with iCARE4CVD

With opportunities for data sharing, data integration, and new findings from the iCARE4CVD consortium, we will be able to generate new insights about the connection between obesity and cardiovascular disease. Going forward, we hope to maximize these synergies with the iCARE4CVD database, providing broader opportunities for analysis and new findings. This will not only benefit the important work of SOPHIA – the data sharing will help us develop better healthcare pathways, ultimately ensuring better patient outcomes.

Do you want to know more about iCARE4CVD, and how they aim to personalise treatment for cardiovascular diseases?

Visit their website here, where you can also find links to all relevant social media accounts.

 

SOPHIA has received funding from the Innovative Medicines Initiatives in 2 Joint Undertaking under grant agreement No. 875534. This Joint Undertaking support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program and EFPIA – European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations, T1D Exchange, JDRF International, and Obesity Action Coalition through the Innovative Health Initiative (IHI).

UCD Professor and SOPHIA Project coordinator Carel Le Roux has been named Researcher of the Year!

Every year The Irish Research Council (IRC) celebrates the best IRC-funded researchers who are making “highly significant and valuable contributions to knowledge, society, culture and innovation.” The SOPHIA consortium is proud to congratulate SOPHIA Project coordinator, Professor Carel le Roux, on winning this year’s Researcher of the Year award!

Professor Carel le Roux as a driving force in the acknowledgment of obesity as a complex subset of diseases

Professor Le Roux is a leading clinical scientist and expert on how the gut communicates with the brain to control hunger and satiety. He was awarded the prestigious prize for his work developing more effective obesity treatments.

His research has been primarily focused on the impact of diet, medication, exercise, and surgery, and on enhancing gut-brain signalling for the management of obesity. Leading the important work in the SOPHIA project, le Roux has been a major driver in the landmark acknowledgment of obesity as a complex subset of diseases, which provides the basis for exploring new and better treatment options for patients.

Next step to solve the unmet medical need: Unlocking the predictors of obesity

While significant progress has been made, an unmet medical need remains among people living with obesity. Professor Carel le Roux explains the next step, in which he and SOPHIA are actively working towards:

The Irish Research Council award recognises how the narrative is changing about the disease of obesity. We moved from a position where obesity was thought to be the fault of an individual to now recognising obesity as a subset of biological diseases. The next steps will be to find the keys to unlock the predictors of the diseases of obesity and the predictors for the response to obesity treatments.”

For more information, read the IRC’s article on Professor le Roux’s achievement here.

 

SOPHIA has received funding from the Innovative Medicines Initiative 2 Joint Undertaking under grant agreement No. 875534. This Joint Undertaking support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program and EFPIA and T1D Exchange, JDRF, and Obesity Action Coalition

Obesity now affects 650 million people worldwide and is a significant global health concern. A new publication from the SOPHIA project emphasizes just how important this change in the approach to obesity will be for improving patient outcomes.

Changing the approach to obesity therapy

The recent article published in Expert Review of Gastroenterology & Hepatology reviews the current aims in research and addresses the accelerated advancement in obesity perception and management.

So far, the treatment of obesity has been inadequate. Due to insufficient data on clustering the complex set of diseases, as well as lacking medical solutions, an unmet medical need remains among people living with obesity. Particularly as obesity increases the risk of comorbidities such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes, a change is needed in how we approach obesity treatment.

Closing the gap in obesity care

The article once again highlights that there is no one size fits all when it comes to obesity treatment. Partnerships between academia, industry, and patient organizations are needed to minimize the existing gap in obesity care. This is a testament to the importance of the work carried out by the IMI SOPHIA partners, who are committed to continue the journey of generating major innovations in the obesity space.

As this paper underlines, there is currently a common perception by patients, clinicians, payers and industry that “obesity is a behavioral responsibility requiring willpower alone rather than allowing chronic disease management of the disease.” This perception has established a stigma around obesity that this publication – and the IMI SOPHIA project – aim to resolve.

Why the narrative around obesity matters

This publication highlights that obesity is not just one disease, but rather a cluster of complex diseases and that treating these underlying diseases may lead to better results for individual patients and society. Addressing the evident unmet medical need requires an overarching change in the approach to treatment. This also entails a change in the narrative around obesity from all parties, which ultimately will lead to better healthcare for people living with obesity. This leads us to the question of: how we create this critical narrative shift?

How to fundamentally change obesity perceptions and treatment

Do you want to take a deep dive in the evidence supporting the work of IMI SOPHIA, and understand why a change in the narrative will make a difference on a global scale? Read the article published in Expert Review of Gastroenterology & Hepatology here and learn more about the complexity of obesity therapy.

 

SOPHIA has received funding from the Innovative Medicines Initiative 2 Joint Undertaking under grant agreement No. 875534. This Joint Undertaking support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program and EFPIA and T1D Exchange, JDRF, and Obesity Action Coalition

New AI tool makes it possible to predict weight loss after bariatric surgery

First-time patients in need of bariatric surgery will now be able to predict their weight loss ahead of undergoing a gastric bypass or sleeve gastrectomy operation.

A new AI driven web-tool developed by University of Lille and supported by the European Union SOPHIA project now allows patients and their doctors to accurately predict weight loss over five years following different types of bariatric surgery.

“Usually, weight loss after bariatric surgery vary widely and predicting weight loss was difficult,” said Professor Carel le Roux, from the UCD School of Medicine, co-ordinator of the SOPHIA consortium. “Using artificial intelligence, we’ve developed a new pre-surgery prediction tool – created with data from eight counties in Europe, America, and Asia.”

Publishing their findings in The Lancet Digital Health, SOPHIA researchers used data from 9,861 patients as part of the project – with 385 relevant measures taken to decide on the seven most valuable variables for accurately predicting weight loss post-bariatric surgery. This include height, weight, type of operation, age, diabetes status, diabetes duration, and smoking status.

The prediction tool is the most accurate approach to predicting weight loss post-surgery created so far, and is likely to only improve over the next two years given the on-going European Union project SOPHIA’s investment.

“The tool will substantially reduce uncertainty for patients as they can now make a much more informed decision about which surgical option to select. This is why we developed and validated this easy-to-use tool to predict an individual’s 5 year-weight loss after the most common bariatric operations,” said lead author Professor Francois Pattou, Lille University, France. “Patients and clinicians are now able to make more informed decisions about which surgical option to select.”

Obesity affects 150 million people in Europe and 650 million worldwide, and increases the risk of health complications like heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

The aim of SOPHIA is to improve the ability to predict how patients will respond best to different obesity treatments and to help minimise complications.

The five-year project has received funding from the Innovative Medicines Initiative 2 Joint Undertaking (JU) under grant agreement No 875534. The JU receives support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and EFPIA and T1D Exchange, JDRF, and Obesity Action Coalition.

The 28th of April 2022 we had the pleasure to host our 2nd yearly SOPHIA General Aseembly meeting at Favrholm Campus in Denmark. The video will show a recap of a fantastic day.

 

The theme of this year’s World Obesity Day was ‘everybody needs to act’. On the day itself we saw clear and compelling accounts from advocacy groups, scientific contributions from leading medics and researchers, and policy recommendations from think-tanks and NGOs. The message was clear – to develop an effective understanding of, and response to, obesity as a chronic disease, everybody needs to act.