Ideas for Mechanistic Studies

For Researchers

TrialNet’s mechanistic portfolio includes studies using samples from previous and ongoing clinical trials as well as from our TrialNet Natural History (TN01 Pathway to Prevention) and Long Term Investigational Follow-up (TN16 LIFT) Studies.

TrialNet samples constitute a precious resource that has been made widely available to investigators.  To date, almost 100 ancillary studies have been approved and more than 25,000 samples from 7,800 participants have been provided to investigators within and external to TrialNet.   After comprehensive review of these studies and following recommendations from external investigators, we identified gaps and opportunities to advance TrialNet’s scientific priorities.   This strategic review has resulted in a revised model for mechanistic studies.  Going forward, mechanistic studies will be considered an integral part of TrialNet and no longer considered “ancillary” to our activities.

Investigators are invited to work with TrialNet to advance our priorities as described below.  Additionally, TrialNet will continue to draw on external scientific expertise to provide ideas, guidance, and advice about our mechanistic portfolio.

Contact Sarah Muller for questions or to express interest in collaborating with TrialNet on mechanistic studies.

1. Key Questions Studies:  These are TrialNet developed, major research questions with identified populations and samples for which multiple technologies and assays will be applied and multidimensional analysis used.  Investigators are encouraged to suggest platforms, technologies, and assays that could be applied to these questions.  It is expected that there will be periodic RFAs for academic and/or industry investigators interested in conducting specific assays for each targeted question. 

The Key Questions are available at PDF icon TrialNet Key Questions.pdf

2. Stored Sample Concept Proposals: TrialNet welcomes investigators who have ideas for studies using TrialNet stored samples.  Previously, these ideas were reviewed and considered as ancillary studies.  These requests will now only be considered as collaborative efforts with TrialNet.

Concept proposals for the use of stored samples will be reviewed according to TrialNet’s priorities as defined.  Investigators are urged to read this document before submitting a proposal, as only those concept proposals identified as being of high priority and outstanding scientific interest will be pursued.  This will be done through incorporating the proposed assay into one of our existing key questions studies or through collaborative development of a TrialNet mechanistic study.

The stored sample concept proposal application is available here.

3. Exploratory Assays Living Biobank Proposals: TrialNet also welcomes investigators who have mechanistic study proposals involving fresh blood samples from one, or at most a few, TrialNet sites.  All such “living biobank” studies must have the concurrence of the clinical site PIs and must not require other support from TrialNet.  This mechanism is most appropriate for more exploratory studies.

These proposals will be reviewed according to TrialNet priorities and to evaluate impact on subject and site burden (i.e. blood volume and shipping/handling requirements).  Studies that involve very low impact on subjects and centers (e.g., involving a single center) are frequently approved.

The “exploratory assays living biobank” application is available here.

4. Data Integration and Collaborations: TrialNet has approved ~100 ancillary study applications from investigators within and external to TrialNet.  TrialNet has provided investigators with 25,000 samples from 7,800 subjects.  As such there is a wealth of information from work already done addressing important questions.  TrialNet is interested in new collaborations that seek to analyze and integrate data across studies including data obtained from existing ancillary studies.  This will provide added value to TrialNet, its collaborators, and the T1D research community.

A searchable database of previous mechanistic studies performed as ancillary studies can be accessed here. Investigators interested in joining these efforts should contact Manuela Battaglia who is leading TrialNet’s efforts in this area.