The Future of Disease Interception

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Publication Date:
July 2019
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What does pharma need to do to develop this radical health model of the future?

Disease interception is a novel healthcare model that identifies, treats and sometimes cures disease before it is fully manifested. There is growing interest among pharma companies who see the opportunity to leverage their disease knowledge, patient understanding and research capacity to develop valuable new therapies for early stage intervention. But how do you get there? For an industry rooted in diagnosis and treatment of disease, the disease interception model will require a completely different mind-set, a deeper scientific understanding of underlying disease processes, a diversion of research spending, the development of completely new commercial models and new regulatory pathways to negotiate.

None of this is going to happen quickly, so what should pharma be doing now as this healthcare revolution takes shape? In The Future of Disease Interception, we interviewed experts to help you understand the challenges and benefits of the disease interception model and the steps industry can take to favourably position itself for the future.

Experts explore disease interception questions

  • How ready is the pharma industry for a disease interception model and what do companies need to do to prepare for the future?
  • What biomarker identification tools and techniques are needed for a future of disease interception?
  • How will disease interception change the future of pharma's R&D activities, including drug discovery and development?
  • What changes must pharma implement to facilitate a behavioural science approach to disease interception?
  • What RWD capabilities do companies need to ensure the future success of their disease interception initiatives?
  • What key partnerships are required for the future of disease interception and how will such partnerships help with pharma's disease interception efforts?

What our experts say…

"Slow adoption is about mind-set, where companies have to move from this framework of diagnosing and treating to one where they can predict and pre-empt. Organisations are moving in that direction, with interception strategies and early interventions for cancer, for example, or even pre-malignant lesions. There is a trend to move towards early stage, which is not quite the definition of disease interception that J&J put together, and maybe other organisations are not using those very words, but the thinking is that if there was an opportunity to intervene early for the patient or the patient-to-be, then one should look at that space."
Anish Suri, Chief Scientific Officer at Cue Biopharma, US

"Measures for behaviour, context and environment will be necessary to get an understanding of external influences of diseases, from early disease markers to disease progression. Note that a genetic marker for a disease might never come to a disease state without other influencing factors."
Chris Van Hoof, Vice President of R&D at imec, Belgium

"[Barriers are] possibly a combination of structural and commercial factors, but a lot of the data that underscores hard pharmacology may be very different from datasets that determine behavioural changes or opportunities. Structurally, we need a change in terms of a research infrastructure that enables pertinent investigations that can be done concurrently in both spaces."
Anish Suri, Chief Scientific Officer at Cue Biopharma, US

"Sustaining a project amidst budget constraints will be a challenge. Gaining confidence, support and investment from leadership will rely on early successes. Budgets are constantly being squeezed and so the bar can keep getting higher to keep a project alive. Early success will build confidence in disease interception and make leadership teams more willing to invest."
Andrew Leishman, Director at Immunoconsulting Limited, UK

What is disease interception?

Although there have been different interpretations of what 'disease interception' means, it has become generally accepted that three key conditions must be satisfied for an intervention to be described as disease interception:

  • The individual concerned should be asymptomatic for the relevant disease
  • It should be possible to detect a biomarker for the disease prior to the development of clinical symptoms
  • Appropriate action should then be taken to stop any disease-related symptoms manifesting from the detected biomarker

For the purpose of this report, disease interception is defined as:
Medical and behavioural interventions that target disease biomarkers in asymptomatic individuals, thus stopping or slowing down the development of symptoms.

What to expect

  • A detailed report examining the issues, benefits and challenges for pharma in the emerging disease interception model of healthcare
  • An examination of 7 key issues which pharma needs to understand and respond to
  • 19 targeted questions put to 3 disease interception experts
  • Their perceptive responses that provided 30 insights supported by 59 directly quoted comments

About the Expert contributors

The three experts who contributed to this report are from either pharma or consultancy firms. All have had experience in either the development of disease interception models or the development of tools and techniques to facilitate disease interception.

  • Andrew Leishman is the Director of Immunoconsulting Limited, a consulting firm that assists pharmaceutical companies with the development of new therapeutic strategies for targeting components of the immune system. With over 17 years' experience in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, Leishman has worked in various capacities for both small and large companies, leading projects across several therapy areas. He is proficient in immunology and has a strong understanding of the research and development (R&D) process for small molecule, biological, RNA and cellular approaches that span target identification/validation, candidate drug delivery and pharmacology/translational medicine support for clinical trials.
  • Dr Anish Suri is the Chief Scientific Officer at Cue Biopharma, an immunotherapy company developing a novel, proprietary class of biologics engineered to selectively modulate the human immune system. He has more than 11 years' experience in the pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical industries, working specifically in the area of immunology. He also has three years' experience as an instructor and assistant professor of pathology and immunology research at Washington University School of Medicine.
  • Chris Van Hoof is Vice President of R&D at imec, a leading global research and innovation hub specialising in nanoelectronics and digital technologies. Van Hoof leads the R&D direction and business strategy across three imec locations in Eindhoven (Netherlands), Leuven (Belgium) and Ghent (Belgium). He is passionate about delivering effective solutions for disease prevention and interception, focusing primarily on how personal digital phenotyping can facilitate this via the tracking of health parameters and behaviour longitudinally.

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