Thursday, December 18, 2014

Is Silent Innovation Driving Patient-Centric Medicine Forward?

By Sven Stegemann, Professor for Patient Centric Product Design and Manufacturing, Graz University of Technology, Austria

Scientists tend not to look backwards but sometimes it is an interesting exercise to do so if only to  confirm how much science has advanced in a relatively short time.

When I left university with the degree in pharmaceutical science and pharmacy in 1989, the first proton pump inhibitor was about to be launched, the Cytochrome P450 System had just been discovered and Kary Mullis was four years away from receiving the Nobel Prize for the development of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) method. At this point, only a few people were envisioning high-throughput screening and combinatorial chemistry as a major tool for drug discovery or that the human genome would be sequenced by the beginning of the new century. During the past decade we have progressed in not only DNA sequencing but in understanding the DNA, the "omics," Single nucleotide polymorphism (SNPs) and disease networks. While personalized medicine is still considered as being somewhere in the future by many scientists and healthcare professionals, it is already the reality for life-threatening diseases like cancer while making silent inroads into the treatment of many other diseases.

Scientists who finished their thesis in the mid-90s will recall the huge and heavy volumes of scientific journals in the library and the cumbersome process of making hard copies to reference. Today, literature research can be made at any time, easily, from a laptop with immediate access to download the full publication. The Internet has revolutionized access to scientific data. Thanks to the tangible value and ease of use, this information technology progress and its applications were quickly adopted by our society. But what about digital health applications? Young people like their wireless activity trackers to share their heart rates when exercising within their social network. But implementing digital monitoring of various clinical parameters and adherence into daily treatment practice still encounters concerns regarding data protection and potential misuse of digital clinical data as well as genomics data. However, once the benefit of digital health becomes evident for high risk patients or older people with mobility issues who cannot easily visit a healthcare professional, this innovation will be implemented. Moreover, wouldn´t it be interesting and motivating for a patient to track the positive clinical effects when taking the prescribed drugs using their smartphone? Some healthcare professionals might reply that every patient is different and not everyone can cope with technology or wants to know about the clinical parameters. This is a fair remark and we have to recognize that different patient populations have different needs. We are starting to recognize that patients play a critical role in achieving positive therapeutic outcomes and that the “one-size-fits-all” product concept no longer fits. What if we develop products that precisely meet patients’ needs and can be used intuitively, as intended? Wouldn´t the patient perceive this as a similar “innovation” to the smartphone?

Looking forward, pharmacogenomics and patient centricity are becoming integral to the design of innovative drug delivery technologies and resulting drug products. Innovation will come from integrated and flexible drug delivery systems tailored to patients with regard to their personalized therapy and specific needs.

Patient-centricity will be a new topic featured at the 2015 Drug Delivery Partnerships meeting, with a full day of presentations slated on Friday, January 30. Stop by during our panel discussion at 2:15 p.m. on “The Era of Personalized Medicine and Patient-Centric Therapeutics: Has the Future Already Become the Present?”

To hear more from Sven, register for DDP now. Save $300 when you register by Friday 12/19 - use the code XP2078BLOG | Register here.

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