Innovation in BioSciences at the ONHelix conference in Cambridge

Author: Helen Baxter, Vice President, North Highland

I joined fellow Life Science enthusiasts at the OnHelix conference in Cambridge at the beginning of the month to listen and learn to some of the latest thinking in Innovation in the industry. A range of experts talked about BioInnovation in the pharma and biotech industry at the latest OnHelix conference in Cambridge July 2022. Here are some of the key themes that emerged from the conference.

1. The convergence of technology into Life Sciences companies has critical and long reaching symptoms which are creating new opportunities for innovation, for flexibility and for our clinicians to “do more” with the data and the information that is presented to them. This comes at all stages of the life cycle of a drug or a diagnostic and should enable treatments get to patients in a more efficient and faster way. The benefits of vaccine development during CV19 were the collaborative spirit that companies fostered, the sharing of information and data to reach outcomes faster and the efficiencies to get vaccines from “bench” to people through cooperation with regulators and life sciences companies together…the bottom line is accelerating innovation for patient benefit.

2. Making diagnostics a more integrated part of the process – the adoption of healthcare tech by the public has exploded in the last 5 years+ and it is seen the “norm” to talk through steps, heart rate, calories, stress levels (to name a few) in the day to day. How can this adoption be harnessed to use diagnostics as a part of the development of products and therapy areas, or to create a shift from diagnostic to health rather than disease so we can utilise these trends as prevention tools?

3. In the Cell & Gene therapeutics area, there is currently no defined way of creating a treatment pathway, no defined way of manufacturing a treatment – the industry is learning on the job. How can we harness standardisation in some areas but enhance innovation in the development of these treatments to allow companies to get their products to market faster and make them more accessible to patients? In my personal friendship groups, I have seen what a difference getting a CAR-T treatment can create and the industry – regulators, life sciences companies, investors, payers and governments – must work hand in hand to create success, removing obstacles to allow scientific innovation to flourish whilst fair reimbursement models are put in place. The mindset shift is to think of the entire life cycle of the treatment right at the beginning of the process.

As an interesting final point, one of the panels of the day focused on BioInnovation in Prevention – looking at drug resistant bacteria and the lack of funding and focus in the space – but the most interesting take away from this discussion was around collaboration – the OneHealth idea of Doctors, Nurses, health professionals talking and sharing information but now – as the environment changes around us – how Veterinary Science must become part of the OneHealth ecosystem so that trends, developments, patterns that occur across the full bionetwork can be tracked and informed on.

How can the vast amount of data produced in today’s world be harnessed and mined to help us share insights, recognise trends and ultimately get treatments to market faster?

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