Wazoku Crowd Challenge Spotlight: Accelerating Research Outcomes with IFOPA

By Henry Crabtree

Posted on

28 February 2024 – Wazoku has partnered with the International Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva Association (IFOPA), a non-profit organization that provides hope to individuals with FOP and their families through education and support programs while raising awareness and funding research to find treatments and a cure.

FOP is an ultra-rare, progressively disabling, genetic disorder with no cure. In healthy individuals, muscles, tendons and ligaments repair themselves with new muscle, tendon and ligament. However in FOP, soft tissues are replaced with bone. Over time, flexible joints fill with unwanted bone leaving the individual permanently frozen in place. Those with FOP, their families and communities need treatments now to prevent and stop the cumulative devastation of FOP.

The IFOPA is launching a Wazoku Crowd Challenge, using fresh eyes, open innovation, and crowdsourcing to tackle significant hurdles in FOP Research and Development. The IFOPA asks solvers to propose rapid methods to track the initiation and formation of unwanted bone as well as FOP flare symptoms, potentially unrelated to bone.

The partnership includes the live open innovation Challenge, Rapid Methods to Measure the Progression of Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva, which has a US$25,000 award amount for the most valuable solutions. $10,000 of this prize fund is reserved for the approaches, methods, technologies, and techniques that meet all solution requirements following theoretical evaluation: with a further $15,000 for awarding solutions following experimental evaluation. This Challenge is live now until 21st April 2024.

Join the Challenge today!

The IFOPA is using Wazoku Crowd, a global network of expert problem ‘Solvers’, comprised of engineers, designers, students, CEOs, start-ups, scientists, and research leaders. In this first Challenge, the IFOPA is searching for novel, efficient, and non-invasive approaches that are capable of measuring new bone formation in no more than 3-6 months.

New bone growth, indicated by new bone lesions or increased total body bone volume, is a primary outcome measure for the disorder. For researchers, physicians, and clinical trial operators, rapid measurement of new bone growth will help to prove or disprove treatments’ effectiveness. This Challenge’s focus on swift detection of new bone will therefore help to accelerate patient outcomes in shortened trials.

The IFOPA’s human-centered design of this Challenge extends to its solution requirements. New measurement approaches must be non-invasive, accessible, and user-friendly. Individuals with FOP have reduced mobility beginning as young as a few months old – and current measurement approaches like whole-body computed tomography (WBCT), x-rays, and positron emission tomography (PET) scans require individuals with FOP to be in painful, difficult positions for 30-60 minutes at a time. Other measurements are untenable for some FOP patients facing particular contortions.

This Challenge aims to increase the effectiveness of bone growth detection, the speed of detection, and the accessibility of measurement approaches. Solvers can submit new approaches or improvements to current methods that will speed up clinical trial timelines and improve worldwide access to regulatory-approved outcome measurements in FOP.

“We’ve partnered with Wazoku to combine our informed, multifaceted strategy around FOP support with the force accelerator that a global crowd can provide,” said Dr. Danielle Kerkovich, Director of Research Development and Partnerships at the IFOPA. “The IFOPA team is looking forward to seeing Solver’s submissions around novel, effective FOP measurement approaches that put individuals with FOP first.”

Andreana Benshoff, Director of Customer Success – Americas at Wazoku stated: “The IFOPA’s mission with this Challenge is to both source new approaches and accelerate the performance of existing measurement methods. Our Wazoku Crowd’s expertise in diverse sectors means they are perfectly suited to advancing the IFOPA’s next steps.”

The Wazoku Crowd has a success rate of 80%+ in solving more than 2,500 Challenges, delivering more than 200,000 innovations in the process – many of which were for non-profit organizations and leading research institutions.

To learn more about the IFOPA’s mission to utilize the insights of millions of changemakers, visit the IFOPA Showcase.

Join the Challenge today to share your novel approaches for measuring new bone formation!

By Henry Crabtree

Wazoku's Community Marketing Manager, Henry is also a life-long Manchester United fan - but we still love him, regardless. When he's not cheering the Reds on, he's working his way through an extensive reading list. Need a book recommendation? He's your man!