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Advancing precision medicine for acute respiratory distress syndrome


Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is a heterogeneous clinical syndrome. Understanding of the complex pathways involved in lung injury pathogenesis, resolution, and repair has grown considerably in recent decades. Nevertheless, to date, only therapies targeting ventilation-induced lung injury have consistently proven beneficial, and despite these gains, ARDS morbidity and mortality remain high. Many candidate therapies with promise in preclinical studies have been ineffective in human trials, probably at least in part due to clinical and biological heterogeneity that modifies treatment responsiveness in human ARDS. A precision medicine approach to ARDS seeks to better account for this heterogeneity by matching therapies to subgroups of patients that are anticipated to be most likely to benefit, which initially might be identified in part by assessing for heterogeneity of treatment effect in clinical trials. In October 2019, the US National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute convened a workshop of multidisciplinary experts to explore research opportunities and challenges for accelerating precision medicine in ARDS. Topics of discussion included the rationale and challenges for a precision medicine approach in ARDS, the roles of preclinical ARDS models in precision medicine, essential features of cohort studies to advance precision medicine, and novel approaches to clinical trials to support development and validation of a precision medicine strategy. In this Position Paper, we summarise workshop discussions, recommendations, and unresolved questions for advancing precision medicine in ARDS. Although the workshop took place before the COVID-19 pandemic began, the pandemic has highlighted the urgent need for precision therapies for ARDS as the global scientific community grapples with many of the key concepts, innovations, and challenges discussed at this workshop.

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