19 January 2018

First patient screened in APPROACH clinical study

Utrecht, The Netherlands - With the screening of the first osteoarthritis patient at the University Medical Centre (UMC) Utrecht, the clinical phase of the 5.5-year APPROACH project formally kicked-off.

Image: APPROACH researchers Anne Karien Marijnissen (left) and Eefje van Helvoort (right) using the HandScan

“Over the next two years, 300 knee-osteoarthritis patients from France, Spain, The Netherlands, and Norway will visit the medical centers for screening on pain, mobility performance, cartilage and bone condition, inflammation, and biomarkers," said Eefje van Helvoort, physician and PhD candidate on the APPROACH project. "The project will focus on knee osteoarthritis – a very common form of the disease and a major cause of impaired mobility with a large burden on people’s quality of life." Using innovative techniques such as HandScans, MRIs and more, data on disease progression will be gathered.

The APPROACH clinical study aims to provide better diagnostic tools for specific osteoarthritis phenotypes, by identifying biological markers (biomarkers) of disease progression. “Currently, all osteoarthritis patients are treated the same. The quality of clinical trials and personalized treatments by doctors will improve tremendously when disease subtypes can be diagnosed. Biomarkers will help to push this forward,” said Anne Karien Marijnissen, Coordinator of the APPROACH clinical study.  

Unique to APPROACH is that ever since the formal start of the project, a Patient Council has been actively involved in the project. Over the past few years, the council has helped developing the project plan and working out the details of the clinical study (related to communications and the burden for study participants). It also reviewed the research protocol, the patient ‘informed consent’ forms, and the APPROACH flyer (available in Dutch, English, French, Norwegian and Spanish). 

The APPROACH project brings together 25 partners from European clinical centers, basic research institutes, small- and medium-sized businesses and pharmaceutical companies. APPROACH receives financial support from the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), which is funded jointly by the European Union and the European pharmaceutical industry.