Twenty-nine leading international partners have joined forces to establish a research consortium Stratification of Obese Phenotypes to Optimize Future Obesity Therapy (SOPHIA) with the aim of improving risk assessment of comorbidities and treatment for people with obesity. Obesity complications are common, but predicting who will develop any of the 200 known complications of obesity is extremely difficult. Moreover, there are insufficient predictors for who will respond to obesity treatments. The SOPHIA consortium will identify, characterise and stratify clinically meaningful subpopulations of patients living with obesity to match the right treatment for the right person at the right time.
“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 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.
“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,” said SOPHIA Project Leader, Dr Marianne Ølholm Larsen Grønning of Novo Nordisk. “SOPHIA is an important step towards understanding obesity better. The collaboration between excellent contributors from academia, industry and associations holds a big promise that we can deliver strong and unique results.”
Some of the methods used in SOPHIA will be:
- Creating a database
- Conducting analysis
- Conducting in-depth qualitative methods with patients to identify their perceptions and perspectives on obesity diagnosis and treatment
- Finding a shared value with all stakeholders to ensure better treatment of people living with obesity
- SOPHIA will also investigate health outcomes in people with obesity who have type 1 diabetes
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 has been granted €16 million in funding from the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) - a joint undertaking of the European Commission and the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA); JDRF; the Obesity Action Coalition; and T1D Exchange.