DNA methylation markers to predict treatment success of biologicals in Crohn’s disease.

1 January 2023 - 31 December 2026

Diagnosis & treatmentHorizon Europe2023

The EU-funded METHYLOMIC project focuses on epigenetics as a means of predicting the outcome of biological therapies. Researchers will introduce and validate DNA methylation biomarkers as accurate predictors of response to therapy.

Project description

Monoclonal antibodies have become a mainstay of therapy in common immune-mediated diseases (IMID) including Crohn’s disease (CD), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and psoriasis (PsO). Current therapeutics include antibodies (“biologicals”) targeting inflammatory proteins such as Tumor Necrosis Factor (adalimumab), leukocyte trafficking (vedolizumab), or IL-12/IL-23 (ustekinumab). At present however, it cannot be predicted which biological will be effective in an individual patient, with only <40% of patients showing primary response to any given therapeutic. Treatment failure is associated with disease complications, and increased health care costs.. Hence the overwhelming need for predictive biomarkers to guide personalised medicine in IMID is evident. No biomarker to target therapy is validated in clinical practice.   

In METHYLOMIC, we build on multiple previous cohort studies in which we confirmed epigenetic biomarkers (specifically DNA methylation) as the most stringent predictor of response to biological therapy, zooming in on CD. Specifically, we discovered and validated differential DNA methylation profiles in peripheral blood as biomarkers of response/deep remission for 3 approved biologicals in CD. Through the use of machine learning algorithms, treatment response could be predicted with up to 93% accuracy for each biological for CD, and RA.  

METHYLOMICS is committed to bringing personalised treatment-selection in CD and other IMID to clinical practice. We have teamed up clinical, epigenetic, and DNA diagnostics experts, patient organisations, and companies across Europe, for further validation studies, develop a marketable rapid targeted methylation assay that we than validate in a unique prospective randomised clinical trial for CD. Efficiency and cost-effectiveness is assessed in great detail and regulatory approval is guided by experts to assure delivery of the first epigenetic kit personalised treatment of CD.

Funding programme & Type of action

Funding programme : Horizon Europe
Type of action : Research and Innovation Action
Grant agreement number : 101095449


4 years

Belgian partners

Universiteit Gent (Ugent)

Belgian IBD Research and Development (BIRD)