Holistic approach may bring true innovation to pharma world, says GlobalData

Major pharma companies are facing massive challenges in developing truly innovative drugs and to minimize risk in internal R&D, they have been mainly relying on outside innovation by biotech firms

0
59

New Delhi: The recent move of former Novartis US oncology head Bill Hinshaw to the startup company Axcella Health, is just one of a few recent examples of R&D executives from Big Pharma moving into young biotechs and signals a certain level of oversaturation with the traditional R&D approaches. Against this backdrop, GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, says that holistic approach to human diseases may bring true innovation to the pharmaceutical world.

Major pharma companies are facing massive challenges in developing truly innovative drugs and to minimize risk in internal R&D, they have been mainly relying on outside innovation by biotech firms.

Valentina Gburcik, PhD, Director of Cardiovascular and Metabolic Disorders at GlobalData, says: “The R&D executives’ excitement over some of the new small companies might be a sign that there is a certain level of oversaturation with the traditional R&D approaches, which have typically been marked by a narrow focus on a single disease, instead of acknowledging the interconnectedness of diseases across multiple therapy areas.”

Axcella Health is one of the emerging biotechs that is combining endogenous metabolic modulators with the goal of re-programming cellular physiology across the network of dysregulated signaling pathways, which would have effects on multiple interconnected indications.

It is already widely known that metabolic disorders and cardiovascular problems have a close clinical relationship, but it is now recognized that the heart and kidney do too. Likewise, immunology and oncology are closely linked, exemplified by the huge success of immuno-oncology drugs. Evidence has also been accumulated over decades showing that the central nervous system and the immune system communicate with one another.

For this reason, earlier this year, AstraZeneca had taken a distinctive cardio-renal-metabolic approach of evaluating these diseases holistically and addressing patients’ multiple risk factors together. To reflect this, the company renamed its therapy area Cardiovascular and Metabolic Disorders (CVMD) into Cardiovascular, Renal and Metabolism (CVRM).

Gburcik concludes: “Evaluating diseases through a holistic framework by addressing multiple risk factors together has to be achieved through complex systems analysis, which is only becoming possible now, facilitated by the unprecedented advances in technologies such as artificial intelligence and big data.

“Some potential novel drug candidates are already being discovered using this holistic approach, and GlobalData believes that we should expect exciting medical breakthroughs in the coming decades. It seems that some R&D executives believe that too, and are eager to become part of the truly innovative and exciting future of the drug discovery process.”