Companies, businesses and research institutions dedicated to protecting and improving human, animal and plant life continue to make breakthroughs in understanding the nature of diseases that affect them.
The volume of life science research is rapidly increasing with aging populations and the growing prevalence of chronic diseases. Both factors contribute to the boost in health care spending and the demand for immediacy in study, diagnosis and treatment of disease.
Here are five trends moving the life sciences industry forward to meet those growing demands:
#1 Improved practices through digital transformation:
There is an increase of digitalization among life science organizations. Operations are becoming more efficient and effective by digitizing paper-based processes - from finance, supply chain and manufacturing to developing new products and services.
The innovation of cloud management has helped eliminate data loss and makes it easier for analysts to gather, organize and interpret information pertinent to life sciences and research systems operations. It’s also responsible for achieving premium and cost-effective patient care through online assessment, diagnosis and treatment.
#2 Advancement of drug research:
Market research indicates smart technology could help improve assessment and treatment of patients using medication. This includes the integration of assessment devices like MRI scans, laboratory equipment and in-patient monitors and management tools. Doctors will be able to combine the data needed to prescribe the right medication for the patient. This provides accuracy and adherence to the objective information provided by the assessment tools rather than subjective reports.
#3 Improvement of drug approval timelines:
Much needed medications are being held stagnant due to the long process of approvals in the Federal Drug Administration (FDA). However, government agencies have improved the speed of drug testing and holding controlled trials for candidate patients because of technology advancements.
One example is the FDA’s Oncology Center of Excellence Real-Time Oncology Review pilot program which aims to explore a more efficient review process to ensure safe and effective treatments are available to patients as early as possible.
#4 Focus on personalized medicine:
Investment in personalized medicine, also called precision medicine, has doubled in the last five years. The method of diagnosing and tailoring therapies to individual patients based on their predicted responses to treatment is expected to increase by 33% in the next five years.
“Personalized medicine involves drugs or therapy designed for an individual or specific set of individuals who carry the same or similar characteristics,” explained Brown, who’s also a scientist. “Those characteristics can vary extensively depending on the disease, but can range from having the same genetic mutation to having been previously treated with the same drugs or therapy.”
Brown explained traditional medicine tends to treat patients on larger demographics. The more those demographics can be narrowed into smaller groups, the more the medicine becomes personalized to the individual level. An example of this would be extracting a patient’s immune cells, reprogramming them based on the disease make-up of the individual and then putting those cells back into the patient to fight the disease.
#5 Collaborative innovation of life sciences companies:
The industry is continuously developing thanks to its collaborative nature. Biotech companies are joining forces with other related health science organizations to push boundaries for development.
For example: Horizon is an industry leader in CRISPR screening and Envigo is an industry leader in providing in vivo research models and services. The two have partnered to offer in vivo CRISPR screening so customers may benefit from their expertise in both fields without having to use multiple sources.
Brown, who’s worked on the commercial side of life sciences the last decade, said Horizon and Envigo’s in vivo CRISPR screening has many different applications in terms of which tumor models are used - Patient Derived Xenografts (PDX), Cell Derived Xenografts (CDX) or syngeneics - to understand what’s going on at the molecular level in specific cancer types.
“In vivo CRISPR screening helps us understand how the tumor changes or adapts to different variables put upon it. Or, just the progression of that specific cancer type by itself,” he explained. “It really gives us a better idea of what genes are involved in that whole process.”
“Our customers will then take that data to inform them what’s going on with their specific target for their drug,” Brown added. “Is it more susceptible to these groups of drugs or another type of drug? Can we change formulations or dosages to key a gene - or more specifically a group of genes - to see how they interact with each other in the presence or absence of a drug or the disease progression itself?”
Envigo acquired Horizon’s research models business unit in November. It’s now offering PDX models - involving breast cancer and melanoma - resistant to the latest standard of care drugs like Fulvestrant, Palbociclib and Pembrolizumab.
“We’re also able to provide drug efficacy studies utilizing any model that is commercially available and can be sent to us for studies,” said Brown. “Our collection never ends as we have constant access to the most relevant models as they become available.”
“We want to get these models out to the community so everyone can take advantage of them,” he added. “Our goal is to provide critical research tools and services needed on the path to disease discovery and drug development.”
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