History Of BLIPS

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The History of BLIPS


The British Lupus Integrated Prospective System, or BLIPS as it is known, is the result of 10 years of collaboration between British Isles Lupus Assessment Group (BILAG) and ADS-Limathon. Since 1984, the BILAG group has been monitoring thousands of patients with the autoimmune disease Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE). Many authoritative clinical papers have emanated from the group and they have documented a complex index for assessing and controlling the disease. For ADS, the project started out in 1996 as a simple data migration of a legacy BILAG database into MS Access 2.0. Blips Version 1.0 was born. Currently at Version 4.0 and now powered by Microsoft Access XP, it has evolved over ten years, to become a highly sought after tool for Lupus researchers worldwide.  

BLIPS Version One was released exclusively to the Bilag group in 1998 as a direct replacement for their old DOS BILAG database. It included a completely new GUI interface for the BILAG index monitoring of eight clinical systems mucocutaneous, immunological, vascular, haematological, cardiovascular, biochemical neurological, musculoskeletal, and added new functionality recording of medication drugs and laboratory results. The software calculation algorithm was validated for the BILAG group by Birmingham University, by checking against their database containing 12,000 assessments.

BLIPS Version Two in 1999 added two further internationally recognised indices SLICC and SF-36. Graphing of results was introduced to the functionality, and the product became a network client-server application.

Blips Version 3.0 was released worldwide in 2000 allowing non-BILAG clinics to obtain the tool. Version 3.0 included two more indices, SLAM-R and Selena Sledai. It was recoded in Access 97 and a 100-page user guide and helptext were added. BLIPS 3.0 is now in use in major universities and hospitals throughout the UK, USA and Canada and as far a field as China, Korea, Australia and the Philippines.  During 2003-2005 several clinical studies were conducted using BLIPS 3.0

BLIPS Version 4.0 was released first released in a bespoke Clinical Study version in November 2005. It has since been used introduced in more studies in 2006. Changes included improved security and audit trail for FDA CFR21 compliance. Demographic data screens were replaced with Patient IDs. Sign off reports were introduced, along with the ability to automatically email them to the Study Control centre. A system admin function was introduced to allow Study Organisers to define which functionality would be available to clinics during trials.  Further development has enabled BLIPS 4.0 to be released in June 2006 as a standard product release, rather than restricting it to Clinical Studies. The software calculation algorithm was again validated by the BILAG group and by an independent software testing consultancy.

BLIPS Version 5.0 is the latest release which came in 2008. This added a further index - The BILAG 2004 Index - which is a major revision of the original BILAG index. Major clinical improvements to the index have meant that data collected from previous versions of BLIPS will not be compatible with the new index. Version 5 supports The BILAG 2000 and the BILAG 2004 index and users can chose to use either or both.

BLIPS is now in use in over 30 countries around the world, and since release around 200 users have registered their copies.

BLIPS in the Future

In a separate development, ADS-Limathon have been working with Ionasys Incorporated and have developed a web enabled version of BLIPS,  known as i-BLIPS. Based on the BLIPS 4.0 calculation algorithm, the product retains many of the familiar features of BLIPS, but instead of being MS Access based, it is written in Java, and runs TOMCAT and a MYSQL database, located on a hosted server. This will be initially aimed at Clinical Studies but it may also prove valuable to collaborating clinics such as BILAG and SLICC. It provides the Study Organisers all the major benefits associated with internet applications, including a central database and a simple front end deployment in Internet Explorer. No installation on the users PC is required. After the user has been registered in the database, it is a simple task of entering the web address, and logging on with a user name and password.

i-BLIPS Version 1.0 has been now been validated for clinical trial use and was released in October 2007. i-BLIPS contains the following indices : For lupus - BILAG 2000, BILAG 2004, SLICC, Selena Sledai,  SLAM-R; and for myositis - MITAX, MDI, MMT;  plus demographic, medication, and laboratory results databases. A new and important feature in i-BLIPS is the ability to recalculate a complete set of assessments by patient or by site, if data is entered retrospectively. Users may specify and purchase only the indices and functionality required. i-BLIPS is now live on commercially hosted enterprise servers based in USA, and is accessed from all over the world by internet. Already it is being used on a major worldwide clinical trial involving close to a hundred sites.

Gordon Hamilton,  August 2008


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Last modified: August 20, 2008