In keeping with our mission to sustain human health, CSH has established a Global Biosignatures Network (GBN).
Our approach is to sustain health by building a network of partnerships with forward-thinking leaders, health systems and companies. In addition to our original focus on the role of molecular diagnostics, our collaborative partnerships now incorporates behavior as a key component in our ability to sustain health. In light of rapidly aging populations and the increased incidence of lifestyle diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and neurodegenerative diseases, behavioral interventions have become a high priority for health systems around the globe.
Our goal to improve health outcomes at lower costs has remained unchanged. To sustain human health, we believe that health systems must shift their current focus from expensive and late-stage disease treatments toward more outcome- and cost-effective early detection and prevention strategies. In addition to our original focus on the role of molecular diagnostics for early detection, we believe that advances in information technologies and data capture devices will transform the efficacy-cost equation for health systems globally.
As a global community, we can build on that shared human experience to validate and implement effective, evidence-based solutions that will sustain health for us, our children and generations to come. In keeping with our mission to sustain human health, CSH works with a number of forward-thinking partners
The Center for Sustainable Health (CSH), located in ASU’s Biodesign Institute, works in partnership with Chang Gung University and Memorial Hospital System in Taiwan to identify biomarkers—early indicators of disease—to enable personalized, pre-symptomatic diagnoses, and then develop tools for providing the intelligence needed for better patient outcomes. CSH interfaces with other Biodesign centers and ASU colleges and programs working on complimentary aspects of these goals.
As Chief Scientist, Dr. Lee Hartwell oversees a project to develop biomarkers for the clinical management of many diseases at the Chang Gung. For most of his career, Hartwell studied genes that control cell division in yeast. Subsequently many of these same genes have been found to control cell division in humans and often to be the site of alteration in cancer. Hartwell also turned to yeast to investigate the basis for accurate cellular reproduction and discovered a new class of gene: the “checkpoint” gene. These genes notice when mistakes have been made during cellular reproduction and halt cell division so that repair can take place. His insights into cell-cycle control are being used at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and elsewhere to develop treatments for cancer and other diseases.
Our goal to improve health outcomes at lower costs depends heavily on the development of powerful new technologies, aimed at providing continuous monitoring of physiological symptoms, whether at a molecular level or behavioral level for the prevention and early detection of disease.
Multiple reaction monitoring (MRM) — a mass spectrometry technique to quantify peptides — allows scientists to target specific protein fragments of interest. The newer immuno-MrM technique offers the ability to analyze multiple proteins simultaneously, more cheaply and in less time than immunoassays. Another technology, deep sequencing, is used to sequence millions of DNA or RNA strands simultaneously, which yields a comprehensive profile of the sequences present. Deep sequencing is more quantitative and more sensitive than microarrays. Deep sequencing can also detect rare variants in nucleotide sequencing. This is important because it allows scientists to discover new small RNA species.
Indeed, over the last decade, improvements in molecular technologies have now made it possible to survey very large numbers of molecular markers for the ability to inform patient care. An impressive amount of discovery work has been published, particularly from academic research laboratories reporting correlations between biomarkers and disease outcomes. But these discovery studies are often inadequate, requiring much larger and more standardized activity to verify and validate the reported candidate markers in each disease in order to determine the “biosignature” that is most informative for each clinical decision.
The Center for Sustainable Health is exploring how physiological data, potentially captured by a wide spectrum of devices and sensors, might integrate with molecular data to help individuals and health systems improve outcomes at lower costs. In keeping with our belief that better diagnostic information is a key lever for shifting health systems away from late-stage disease management and toward health promotion, we are particularly focused on how recent advances in information technology and sophisticated but inexpensive data capture devices promise to dramatically improve our ability to detect, diagnose and prevent disease.
Medical diagnostics encompass a wide range of devices and tools that help detect disease. Until recently, healthcare professionals in the clinic were the primary users of most diagnostics. Today however, personal diagnostics are becoming much more widespread. These tools measure a variety of health metrics that help individuals — not just providers—detect and manage disease. Using this information, users can see direct results in quantitative health markers based on modified behaviors.
In light of rapidly aging populations, the world has seen an explosive growth in the incidence of lifestyle diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
According to a World Health Organization report released in 2011, chronic and non-communicable diseases are at epidemic proportions and cause more deaths worldwide than all other diseases. In its first global report on NCDs, the WHO said 36 million, or 63 percent, of the 57 million deaths worldwide in 2008 were the result of such illnesses.
These epidemiological trends have been an important driver in our discussions with health systems regarding the disease focus for implementation of our Sustainable Health model. Based on those discussions, we have begun work on the following diseases:
We anticipate that this list will grow quickly as we add future partners and collaborations.