Category Archives: Digital Development

Ultra-thin meta lens enables full colour imaging

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A meta lens developed by researchers at only one micron thick, has the ability to perform better than any compound lens currently available.

The first flat lens capable of correctly focusing a large range of colours of any polarisation to the same focal spot without the need for any additional elements has been developed.

Researchers at Colombia University School of Engineering and Applied Science developed the lens which is only a micron thick, but offers the performance of the best compound lens systems.

Associate Professor Nanfang Yu led the study and said: “The beauty of our flat lens is that by using meta-atoms of complex shapes, it not only provides the correct distribution of delay for a single colour of light but also for a continuous spectrum of light.

“And because they are so thin, they have the potential to drastically reduce the size and weight of any optical instrument or device used for imaging, such as cameras, microscopes, telescopes, and even our eyeglasses. Think of a pair of eyeglasses with a thickness thinner than a sheet of paper, smartphone cameras that do not bulge out, thin patches of imaging and sensing systems for driverless cars and drones, and miniaturised tools for medical imaging applications.”

The meta-lenses used standard 2D planar fabrication techniques similar to those used for fabricating computer chips. The researchers mention that mass manufacturing these meta-lenses should be simple as they are only one layer of nanostructure, and there is no need to go through the expensive and time-consuming grinding and polishing process.

“The production of our flat lenses can be massively parallelised, yielding large quantities of high performance and cheap lenses,” noted Sajan Shrestha, a doctoral student in Yu’s group who was co-lead author of the study. “We can therefore send our lens designs to semiconductor foundries for mass production and benefit from economies of scale inherent in the industry.”

“Our design algorithm exhausts all degrees of freedom in sculpting an interface into a binary pattern, and, as a result, our flat lenses are able to reach performance approaching the theoretic limit that a single nanostructured interface can possibly achieve,” Adam Overvig, the study’s other co-lead author and also a doctoral student with Yu, said.

“In fact, we’ve demonstrated a few flat lenses with the best theoretically possible combined traits: for a given meta-lens diameter, we have achieved the tightest focal spot over the largest wavelength range.”

The study was published by Nature’s Light: Science and Applications.

SOURCE: www.europeanpharmaceuticalreview.com/news/79753/meta-lens-full-imaging

Novo Nordisk to launch connected insulin pens in early 2019

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Danish healthcare firm Novo Nordisk has unveiled plans to introduce new durable, connected insulin pens in early 2019.

The new NovoPen 6 and NovoPen Echo Plus connected insulin pens will replace the NovoPen 5 and NovoPen Echo insulin pens.

Novo Nordisk will commence the launch of new connected insulin pens in the first quarter of 2019. They are expected to be available in more than 50 countries.

The company expects to deliver connectivity for its disposable, pre-filled injection pens later in 2019.

Novo Nordisk commercial strategy and corporate affairs executive vice president said: “Our non-exclusive partnership strategy allows us to integrate with the various digital platforms that people are already using to help manage their diabetes.

“We firmly believe that this will help more people realise the full benefit of our innovative medicines and begin to ease the mental burden of diabetes treatment for those individuals.”

In parallel, the company has also entered into new partnership agreements with major diabetes technology firms such as Dexcom, Glooko and Roche to enable future integration of its connected pens with various digital health solutions.

As part of the deal with Roche, the partnership will incorporate insulin dosage information from Novo Nordisk’s connected pen technology into Roche’s open ecosystem, enabling to communicate with its digital diabetes management solutions such as mySugr.

The firm will also incorporate data from connected pen devices with its partners’ diabetes management solutions such as continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) systems and blood glucose meters (BGM).

Novo Nordisk will incorporate insulin dosing data with Dexcom CGM data in the coming years.

Roche diabetes care global head Marcel Gmuender said: “We believe in the tremendous benefits integrated digital diabetes management solutions can bring to people with diabetes, caregivers and healthcare systems as part of an open ecosystem and are excited to partner with Novo Nordisk to further drive innovation in this area.”

With marketing activities in more than 170 countries, Novo Nordisk is engaged in providing treatment solutions for obesity, haemophilia, growth disorders and other serious chronic diseases.

SOURCE: www.compelo.com/medical-devices/news

Roche buys Tusk, plus cancer immunotherapy drug, for £62m

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Roche has bought immuno-oncology biotech firm Tusk Therapeutics for an upfront payment of £62 million.

Tusk’s shareholders will receive the upfront cash payment, plus additional contingent payments of up to £521 million, if and when certain milestones are achieved.

Tusk, which is based in Stevenage, has developed a first-in-class antibody, CD25, for the depletion of regulatory T-cells (TRegs), which suppress the body’s immune reaction to cancer cells.

This novel antibody enables the body’s other immune cells to fight tumours while leaving healthy tissue unharmed. Clinical trials are expected to start next year.

Luc Dochez, CEO of Tusk Therapeutics, said: “We are delighted that Roche will further develop this novel antibody and drive the development ahead.

“The remaining portfolio of our immune-oncology targets will be further developed by Black Belt Therapeutics, a newly formed company spun out of Tusk Therapeutics.”

Droia Oncology Ventures, Tusk’s majority shareholder, founded the company in 2014. Droia is a specialist investor, which focuses on fighting cancer.

It invests in promising new cancer therapies and accelerates their progress by actively supporting young drug development companies to achieve clinical proof of concept with their lead programmes. The deal will expand Roche’s oncology pipeline.

Also, Roche today announced a new collaboration with Novo Nordisk, which specialises in the treatment and management of diabetes and obesity.

The plan is to integrate insulin dosage information from Novo Nordisk’s connected pen technology into Roche’s open ecosystem, whereby it will communicate with its digital diabetes management solutions including mySugr, which allows people to monitor their glucose levels.

Marcel Gmuender, global head of Roche Diabetes Care, said: “The integration of insulin pen data in our digital health solutions such as mySugr will make it much easier for people with diabetes and their caregivers to track the effect of insulin on blood glucose levels.

“This enables more efficient and targeted decision support, as they can act on near real-time insights to optimise the personalised diabetes management, thereby reducing the risk of costly secondary complications and contributing to improved therapy outcomes and better quality of life.”

Anders Toft, corporate vice president of commercial innovation at Novo Nordisk, echoed this, adding: “Digital health solutions like mySugr are already helping thousands of patients. By integrating Novo Nordisk connected technology with mySugr, we can further ease the day-to-day burden of disease management and provide data-based insights to improve the dialogue between patients and caregivers.”

SOURCE: www.pharmaphorum.com/news

Six new startups win funding and expert support from Bayer

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Changing the experience of health: that’s the focus of the six startups which the Bayer G4A team has included in the Accelerator program this year.

The young companies came out ahead of more than 1,800 competitors from 100 countries.

They now have 100 days in which to intensively drive the further development of their products and solutions with expertise and investment from Bayer. The company will provide them with offices in Berlin, pharmaceutical executives and industry experts as mentors and EUR 50,000 in funding for each project.

The startups that have applied are developing digital solutions that cover the entire value chain within healthcare. Also this year, a patient jury was asked to rank startups according to the impact that their solutions would have on patient experience.

This year’s winners are:
• Agamon (Israel, GB): A healthcare intelligence platform that can be used to compile and structure health-related data from various sources in order to derive new information. www.agamon.io
• Cyclica (Canada): A cloud platform that aims to use artificial intelligence and biophysics to accelerate drug development. www.cyclicarx.com
• KinAptic (USA): An accelerated learning system for VR stroke rehabilitation using electric stimulation that analyses and detects neural signals to stimulate nerves in stroke patients. www.kinaptic.com
• OME (GB): Personalised health coaching that uses extensive data analyses to compile individualized health programs (nutrition, sleep, physical activity) in order to prevent disease. www.ome.health
• S-There Technologies (Spain): A smart device that analyses health data through urine in the toilet and gives patients insights into their health. https://s-there.com/
• Zencorlabs (Germany): A smartphone software and device that uses artificial intelligence to warn patients of heart failure.

Six years ago, Bayer started cooperating with startups in the healthcare sector through the G4A program headed by Eugene Borukhovich, he said, “It’s incredible to see the tremendous impact that some of our startups have had in the industry. I’m impressed to see the maturity and significance of their innovative solutions. Through the Accelerator program, I’m convinced we will be able to make a significant contribution to truly change the experience of health as we know it. We will continue to put people at the centre of their health and care every single day.”

Dieter Weinand, Member of the Board of Management of Bayer AG and head of the Pharmaceuticals Division commented, “Digital solutions are essential to driving innovation in an evolving healthcare environment. Bayer is seeking to apply them across the pharmaceutical value chain in order to detect diseases at an earlier stage, to develop medicines faster, and to deliver individual treatments with a meaningful outcome for patients. In this endeavour, we benefit immensely from collaborations and the exchange of knowledge and skills with innovative startups.”

SOURCE: www.pharmafield.co.uk/pharma_news

Collaborative working is key for the NHS and pharma

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Both the NHS and pharma recognise the need and the opportunity to collaborate in order to improve patient care and outcomes, and this was a key theme for discussions at the recent HSJ Life Sciences Forum, which united thought leaders across the healthcare spectrum. 

One way in which industry can work in mutually beneficial partnership with the NHS is by looking beyond the usual promotional plans and tactics, to how it can share valuable clinical evidence and information online by accessing NHS staff intranets. This can enable pharma to build its reputation and strengthen customer relationships whilst improving NHS staff knowledge and expertise.

There is a particular need to support NHS staff on the health economic benefits of complex speciality medicines, as indicated in McKinsey & Company’s recent Medical Affairs: Key Imperatives for Engaging and Educating Physicians in a Digital World report.

It states: “There is an increasing need for education and high-quality information, given the proliferation of specialty and more complex medicine.” The industry has to play an important role in collaborating with the NHS to keep staff abreast of the latest innovations and evidence to support the drive for outcomes-focused reimbursement models.

However, it is clear that pharma needs to modify its approach and consider different multi-channel methods, since the McKinsey report shows that although physicians’ use of digital content for discussion, research and collaboration continues to grow, “81% of physicians are dissatisfied with their interactions with biopharmaceutical companies, and more than 40% no longer perceive a ‘need’ for medical support from pharma”. Physicians’ dissatisfaction was said to be driven by a perceived lack of personalised, relevant content (28%) and appropriate communication channels (17%).

The highly regulated environment in which pharma operates is referenced in the McKinsey report as being partly to blame for industry’s failure to provide the kind of targeted, personalised digital communications for HCPs that are commonplace for customers in many other industries.

This isn’t helped by the rapid pace of structural change within the NHS, where new care models are emerging in different areas across England, key stakeholders often hold a number of roles and responsibilities, and collaborative decision-making is becoming increasingly important.

Despite these barriers, industry already has a wealth of approved and compliant information that can be shared through NHS staff intranets, as part of a more collaborative partnership approach both on and offline. This can enable NHS staff to gain easy access to vital information to help improve outcomes in key care pathways.

Content could range from clinical evidence papers, to trials results reported in conference highlights and clinical guidelines. Reports and outcomes from joint working initiatives that show, for example, how the re-design of a care pathway, combined with new treatments, is improving patient outcomes, could also provide valuable insight nationally and regionally.

By supporting continuing professional development (CPD), with knowledge-improving modules/quizzes, industry can add value to the cash-strapped NHS and help HCPs, who are finding it increasingly difficult to access traditional CPD courses, owing to funding cuts.

While historically the industry has prioritised promotional budgets and activity to drive sales performance, now is the time to explore equally measurable and focused routes to sharing the huge range of valuable clinical information at its disposal in order to work more closely with the NHS and help to optimise the performance of NHS staff. This, in turn, will build relationships, reputation and value for both the NHS and pharma.

As the resource constrained and cash strapped NHS looks for ways to collaborate with the life sciences industry to further improve and optimise patient outcomes, there is a substantial opportunity for the industry to align its own objectives by capitalising on its data, information and evidence.

SOURCE: www.pharmaphorum.com/views-and-analysis

 

JSM could lead to improved arthritis treatment

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An algorithm to monitor the joints of patients with arthritis, which could change the way that the severity of the condition is assessed.

An algorithm to monitor the joints of patients with arthritis, which could change the way that the severity of the condition is assessed, has been developed by a team of engineers, physicians and radiologists led by the University of Cambridge.

The technique, which detects tiny changes in arthritic joints, could enable greater understanding of how osteoarthritis develops and allow the effectiveness of new treatments to be assessed more accurately, without the need for invasive tissue sampling.

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis in the UK. It develops when the articular cartilage that coats the ends of bones and allows them to glide smoothly over each other at joints, is worn down, resulting in painful, immobile joints. Currently, there is no recognised cure and the only definitive treatment is surgery for artificial joint replacement.

Osteoarthritis is normally identified on an x-ray by a narrowing of the space between the bones of the joint due to a loss of cartilage. However, x-rays do not have enough sensitivity to detect subtle changes in the joint over time.

Joint space in hip, knee and ankle joints as analyzed by the JSM algorithm. – Tom Turmezei

 

“In addition to their lack of sensitivity, two-dimensional x-rays rely on humans to interpret them,” said lead author Dr Tom Turmezei from Cambridge’s Department of Engineering. “Our ability to detect structural changes to identify disease early, monitor progression and predict treatment response is frustratingly limited by this.”

The technique developed by Dr Turmezei and his colleagues uses images from a standard computerised tomography (CT) scan, which isn’t normally used to monitor joints but produces detailed images in three dimensions.

The semi-automated technique, called joint space mapping (JSM), analyses the CT images to identify changes in the space between the bones of the joint in question, a recognised surrogate marker for osteoarthritis. After developing the algorithm with tests on human hip joints from bodies that had been donated for medical research, they found that it exceeded the current ‘gold standard’ of joint imaging with x-rays in terms of sensitivity, showing that it was at least twice as good at detecting small structural changes. Colour-coded images produced using the JSM algorithm illustrate the parts of the joint where the space between bones is wider or narrower.

“Using this technique, we’ll hopefully be able to identify osteoarthritis earlier, and look at potential treatments before it becomes debilitating,” said Dr Turmezei, who is now a consultant at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital’s Department of Radiology. “It could be used to screen at-risk populations, such as those with known arthritis, previous joint injury, or elite athletes who are at risk of developing arthritis due to the continued strain placed on their joints.”

While CT scanning is regularly used in the clinic to diagnose and monitor a range of health conditions, CT of joints has not yet been approved for use in research trials. According to the researchers, the success of the JSM algorithm demonstrates that 3D imaging techniques have the potential to be more effective than 2D imaging. In addition, CT can now be used with very low doses of radiation, meaning that it can be safely used more frequently for the purposes of ongoing monitoring.

“We’ve shown that this technique could be a valuable tool for the analysis of arthritis, in both clinical and research settings,” said Dr Turmezei. “When combined with 3D statistical analysis, it could be also be used to speed up the development of new treatments.”

The results are published in the journal Scientific Reports.

SOURCE: www.europeanpharmaceuticalreview.com/news/76547

Pfizer eyes AI-powered drug discovery and development software

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Pfizer has partnered with a ‘computation-driven’ pharmaceutical technology company to develop a drug discovery platform powered by artificial intelligence (AI).

Its collaboration with Cambridge, Massachusetts-based XtalPi will see the firms work on molecular modelling software that can be applied to drug-like small molecules.

Charlotte Allerton, Pfizer’s head of medicine design, said: “The XtalPi collaboration is an opportunity to enhance our computational modelling capabilities.

“We are looking forward to potentially utilising new tools to increase our effectiveness in small molecule drug discovery and development.”

In addition to supporting its own efforts, Pfizer plans to make available to the wider academic community some of the molecular mechanics parameters it will generate with public-domain compounds.

The new software platform will combine quantum mechanics, machine learning algorithms and cloud computing architecture to help Pfizer predict pharmaceutical properties that would be relevant for drug discovery and development.

Shuhao Wen, XtalPi’s co-founder and chairman of the board, said: “The collaboration allows us to apply our expertise in molecular modelling, AI, and cloud computing towards improving existing computational methods while exploring new algorithms to address a wide range of drug design challenges.

“We look forward to helping expedite research into novel therapeutics as our intelligent digital drug discovery and development platform continues to expand and succeed.”

The deal builds on XtalPi’s existing work with Pfizer on crystal structure prediction (CSP), with that project aiming to advance the partners’ capabilities in computation-based rational drug design and solid-form selection.

Founded in 2014 by a group of quantum physicists from MIT, XtalPi’s team combines expertise in physics, chemistry, pharmaceutical R&D, and algorithm design.

The company, which counts Google and Chinese internet conglomerate Tencent among its investors, is one of a swathe of AI players looking to innovate drug discovery and development processes.

These include BenevolentAI, Hitachi and Scotland’s Exscientia, with the latter working with the likes of GlaxoSmithKline, Sanofi and Evotec.

At stake is a share in market for healthcare AI applications that’s predicted to be worth more than $10 billion by 2024, driven by the rise in precision medicine and the need to reduce healthcare costs.

SOURCE: www.pharmaphorum.com/news

The future’s bright, the future’s digital in drug delivery

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As a new era of digital drug delivery is making headway, Dr Steven Wick, vice president, Product Development & Commercialisation, 3M Drug Delivery Systems, gives his thoughts on this digital future.

Across the drug delivery industry, there is currently a big movement toward digital enhancement of inhalation devices used by patients with asthma and COPD. With fewer step-change improvements in drug therapies, the pharmaceutical industry is now focusing its attention on drug delivery technologies as a means to improve compliance and therefore patient outcomes. The concept of digital health will allow us to properly equip patients to manage their condition and ultimately take control of their health.

A patient-centred model

A focal point of my career in pharmaceutical research and product development has been to drive innovation with a priority placed on improving patient outcomes. The technological advances that have made digital health possible are changing the landscape of device design to a more patient-centric model. Traditionally, drug delivery methods were designed without much consideration for the patient experience. Now, product developers and engineers are considering the challenges facing patients first. They use these insights to improve drug delivery device design, and by addressing patient challenges directly, they improve patient outcomes in the process.

A 2008 research report showed that up to 94% of patients make mistakes when using their inhalers, and these were the dry powder inhalers that were intended to be easier to use. None of the current devices are perfect, with up to 76% of patients struggling to use metered dose inhalers as well. Also, patients struggle to adhere to their medication schedule. When patients forget to dose themselves or inadvertently use their inhalation devices incorrectly, it doesn’t matter how great the drug is — it will be less effective.

Digital health is helping to solve these usability and adherence issues. For example, the 3M Intelligent Control Inhaler (ICI) is breath-actuated so that patients do not have to coordinate their in-breath with triggering of the device, and actuation is triggered at a low flow-rate and at the optimal point within the patient’s inspiration cycle, so that even patients with a severe condition and poor lung function can use the device.

Proprietary flow-sensing technology optimises the inhalation cycle and can detect whether a patient is inhaling the drug properly to ensure a full dose is received.

The device can connect to a smartphone or tablet for reminders and further instructions, and it can record data for sharing with a healthcare provider, to influence and inform healthcare decisions.

The focus of our efforts is to identify areas where drug delivery device technologies could add significant benefits to the patient and help manage costs for the provider and payer. In that vein, 3M has also developed a respiratory tracker to help patients identify and monitor triggers that result in breathing difficulty. The 3M Respiratory Tracker is not a drug delivery device but a consumer wearable designed to give the wearer a greater understanding of how their breathing patterns are related to environmental or weather-related considerations. It provides personalised forecasts tailored to an individual’s potential triggers in their local environment, while delivering dynamic tips and insights relating to breathing and activity.

Bringing the vision to life

One major factor that stands in the way of future advancements in the digital drug delivery space is cost. Billions of dollars per year are invested in digital health start-ups, and creative solutions are always on the horizon. However, these innovative inventions are struggling to move from the development lab to the pharmacy counter because we have yet to generate the pharmaco-economic models and the associated business cases required to create the necessity for these new digital drug delivery technologies.

To move forward, it is important for all parties involved: pharmaceutical companies, payers, providers, and patients, to understand how total healthcare costs will benefit from these new technologies. If a patient is receiving the right dose of medication at the right time on a consistent basis, one could surmise that the patient’s symptoms would be better managed and the patient would make fewer trips to the doctor’s office or emergency room. In the end, this will drive down overall patient costs and significantly reduce the financial burden on the healthcare system.

We must also consider the investment of time. For healthcare providers, helping patients is the ultimate goal. However, it’s typically the provider’s responsibility to teach his or her patient how to properly use the device, which means the provider must first be trained in how to use it. At 3M, we are sensitive to these factors and keep input from patients and providers at the forefront of all development stages. Our goal is a product that is as straightforward and beneficial as possible for both parties. Despite the bells and whistles that new technology allows, an inhalation device must be intuitive to use — plain and simple.

Moving forward

To stay aligned with this new era of drug delivery, organisations across the board have had to adapt. Here at 3M, we must now be more strategic in our R&D efforts than ever before. Because of the unique financial framework outlined above, we can no longer afford to innovate simply for the sake of innovation. Instead, we start by identifying a problem and then search for a feasible solution.

It is an exciting time to be involved in the drug delivery industry. I believe going digital will improve consistency in drug delivery, increase the efficacy of drug products, and reduce the opportunity for patient errors. I also believe it will offer providers and payers valuable new data to help them identify patients who need extra intervention, thus preventing a potentially catastrophic and costly event. Everything you can imagine doing, there is a possibility with digital health, which is why it will continue to be an unstoppable transition in the inhalation therapy for years to come.

SOURCE: www.epmmagazine.com/opinion

Novartis snatches Amgen and BMS veteran for CMO and Drug Development Head

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Dr John Tsai has been welcomed to the fold as Novartis’ new Head of Global Development and Chief Medical Officer, stepping into the role vacated by Dr Vas Narasimhan, who has since taken up the mantle of CEO at the company.

Dr Tsai will report directly to Dr Narasimhan and will also take up a position on the firm’s Executive Committee. He will commence the role on 1 May.

In his previous position, Dr Tsai served as Chief Medical Officer and Senior Vice President of Global Medical at Amgen since May 2017, managing all clinical and medical functions across Novartis sites worldwide. In his new role, Dr Tsai’s primary remit will be the advancement of the company’s drug pipeline, while also lead ongoing transformation within its Global Drug Development organisation which is looking to better leverage advanced data sciences and digital technologies.

Before joining Amgen, Dr Tsai worked for rival pharma firm Bristol-Myers Squibb for 11 years in a range of senior roles. Most recently, he was Global Head of Clinical Development for marketed products and global clinical operations at the company, and before this he served as Chief Medical Officer, Europe, and Head of US Medical and Vice President of Cardiovascular Medical prior to that. Earlier in his career, before his stint with BMS, Dr Tsai worked at Pfizer as a cardiovascular group leader.

“I am delighted to welcome John to Novartis,” remarked Dr Narasimhan. “As we continue to reimagine drug development, his expertise across multiple therapeutic areas, including cardiovascular, oncology and neuroscience combined with his background in electrical engineering will be a source of great strength for Novartis. John has a great track record in nurturing talent across clinical development, medical affairs and development operations and shares our commitment to build an empowered and inspired organisation. I also want to express my sincere gratitude to Rob Kowalski for his excellent ad interim leadership of the GDD organisation.”

Discussing his appointment, Dr Tsai said: “I feel honoured to have the opportunity to lead the Novartis Global Drug Development organisation and do my part in bringing forward the company’s strong pipeline of medicines that address some of humanity’s biggest health challenges. I am also excited to work with my colleagues at Novartis to pioneer novel paradigms for drug development with data and digital technologies at the core.”

SOURCE: www.pharmafile.com/news/517108