Inova Top Ten Newsletter – December 2017

We’re approaching the end of the year and partnering activity is not slowing down. Last month, Inova was present in four big partnering conferences all over the world, and so are most of the biopharma companies looking to start 2018 with a bang. There were also some innovative approvals, including the first ever digital pill from Otsuka Pharmaceutical and their partner, Proteus Digital Health. Speaking of ‘digital health’, some studies and reports on digital health came out, offering insights on its adoption in the biopharma industry. Gene editing was also a trending topic, as spectators weigh in biotech’s progress in curing genetic diseases.2017 was an eventful year, and we’re looking forward to the new year’s partnering activities. Here are the top December biopharma news:

1) FDA Approves First ‘Digital’ Pill: How Does It Work?

Last month, The FDA has made a first-of-its-kind approval for Otsuka Pharmaceutical’s Abilify MyCite, which consists of the pill, the wearable sensor, and a smartphone app. The actual drug is Abilify (generic name aripiprazole), a medication used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. The drug is sold by Inova client, Otsuka Pharmaceutical, and the sensor in the pill was built by Proteus Digital Health. The approval marks a significant advance in the growing field of digital devices designed to monitor medicine-taking and to address the expensive, longstanding problem that millions of patients do not take drugs as prescribed.

2) BIO-Europe more popular than ever

November was a month full of conferences for #TeamInova. One of the conferences we attended last month was the BIO-Europe Fall in Berlin, where we met some of you. Overall, as this article concludes, the conference was a success with about 4,000 participants from top biopharma companies like yours. See you in Copenhagen next year!

3) Pharma’s coral reef

Professor Brian D. Smith, renowned for his work in the evolution of the pharma industry, suggests that the biopharma industry is currently in the midst of a shift in the way companies compete with each other. He calls it the “holobiont shift”. Competition in pharma, medtech and the life science industry generally used to be between companies but now it is between networked alliances of companies.

4) Study shows digital health is not ‘just for millennials’

A study done for depression in people aged 65 or more, who are receiving online psychiatric therapy found that there is an increase of “older” participants adopting technology. The researchers have mentioned that the findings conclude that elder people are more accepting for new technologies and digital health, contrary to popular belief. Online therapy provides older people with an important new way to access mental health care as it removes the perceived stigma by conferring a greater sense of privacy and can be accessed from home which is particularly beneficial if a patient is physically unwell or if mobility or transportation is a barrier to attending appointments. It’s an interesting shift of perspective, and only proves that technology benefits everyone.

5) Reviewing Gene Therapy: How Close is Biotech to Genetic Cures?

Biotech is arguably built on genetic medicine. When Genentech‘s insulin produced by genetically engineered bacteria kicked off biotech fever in the 1980s, the concept of directly repairing defective human DNA wasn’t far behind. The first transfer of a gene directly into the human genome for therapeutic purposes was performed by William French Anderson in May 1989, when he inserted a marker gene to test the safety of therapeutic modifications. But how is the biotech field doing in the field of gene therapy? Are they and their respective partnerships winning the battle? Check out this article.

6) The 10 most popular stories in Endpoints News — so far in 2017

2017 is about to end, and it’s been a year full of partnerships, and drug approvals. There were some significant milestones, and there were some makers and breakers. Check out this article from Endpoints, compiling the top 10 articles from their site for this year, according to their readers. Who are the top spenders in R&D, which therapeutic area is gainng more investments?

7) Forget what drugs were approved. What drugs performed well?

In 2014, the US FDA has approved a total of 41 drugs. Some notable drugs were VimiZim from BioMarin, a rare disease drug, which costs $380,000, and famous cancer drugs, Keytruda from Merck and Opdivo from Bristol Myers Squibb. The analysis done by life science consulting firm, Trinity Partners, dubbed the Trinity Drug Index, ranks therapies based on three key categories – commercial performance, therapeutic value and R&D complexity. Three years down the line, how are these drugs doing right now? Which drugs are doing well? Are there some trends?

8) Battle of the Biotech Unicorns: CureVac vs. Moderna

In this interview at the BIO-Europe Conference in Berlin, we meet the founders and CEOs of the two biotech unicorns pioneering mRNA therapy: CureVac and Moderna Therapeutics and how the two companies chose to collaborate instead of compete. Curevac CEO mentions that establishing synergies make more sense at this stage when the field is just emerging. Moderna CEO also complements this by mentioning that they had to learn from each other and bringing an actual mRNA therapy in the market will be a victory in the field of science.

9) Gene editing remains early stage, but Big Pharma has taken notice

In this article, we see how the field of gene editing has advanced in terms of treatments. With the discovery of the CRISPR-cas9 technology in the last decade, biotechs have started to lay the groundwork for research, and big pharma is starting to take notice. Although most of the partnerships are considered early stage for now, CRISPR-cas9 is considered the v1 of an entire revolution that gene editing can bring, and is expected to bring more partnerships on the horizon to address unmet medical needs. But the question is, to what extent will the industry use it? Check out the article to find out.

10) Takeaways from digital health progress report include wider adoption by pharma, healthcare

As more and more partnerships are established between tech companies and pharma, the real question is: Is digital health just a trend or is it becoming a norm in the biopharma industry?The article talks about a study done by the IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science Study called Impact of Digital Health Grows as Innovation, Evidence and Adoption of Mobile Health Apps Accelerate.

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