Aging could be easier to manage with AI

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An amazing Quartz article talks about AI and robotic usage for elderly.

It is a must-read for people not ready to hear that we plan to use robotics instead of real people to interact with elderly in specific conditions. You will read the opinion of a doctor mentioning its use of Paro to calm the anxiety of Alzheimer’s disease patients instead of giving them sedatives.

People concerned about the harm a relationship with Paro might do to a person with dementia do not understand the gravity of the disease, Petersen says. “You come to a point in dementia where you can’t trust yourself,” she says. “It’s like being dropped in another country where you don’t speak the language, you don’t know what time of day it is. It’s terribly, terribly fear-producing. These people live in a constant state of fear because they can’t figure out what to do next. They know something’s wrong but they can’t figure out what it is. And it never ends for them. I don’t think people realize how horrific it is.”

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Médecine personnalisée – Quelles libertés dans la santé de demain ?

Histoire et cite

Table ronde du 23 mars 2018 à l’Université de Genève dans le cadre du festival Histoire et Cité

Interventions de Micheline Louis-Courvoisier, Bertrand Kiefer et Christian Lovis

La diversité des intervenants permet la combinaison d’une perspective historique avec une approche de société pour analyser les problématiques d’aujourd’hui et de demain concernant la médecine personnalisée.

Quelles libertés pour le malade d’hier ? – Micheline Louis-Courvoisier

Micheline Louis-Courvoisier nous propose une approche historique de la médecine personnalisée. En tant qu’historienne et spécialiste de l’histoire de la médecine, elle nous explique comment se passaient les consultations au 18ème siècle et comment on peut relier ces expériences au contexte d’aujourd’hui.

Au cours du 18ème siècle, les consultations se faisaient sur une base épistolaire (correspondance écrite entre le soignant/médecin et son patient). Il y a plusieurs raisons à cela : la médecine basée sur les humeurs n’avait pas besoin de l’examen du corps physique ; les soignants étaient plus rares qu’aujourd’hui et souvent, même en cas de consultation occasionnelle en personne, les patients donnaient des nouvelles à leur médecin dans l’intervalle. On écrivait donc à son médecin, cependant ceci était réservé à la partie lettrée de la population.

Cette pratique permettait au médecin d’analyser l’expression de la maladie chez chaque patient en fonction de son ressenti. Le patient organisait son récit à sa manière, il n’y avait pas de lettre-type et chacun d’entre eux s’exprimait différemment. L’écriture en elle-même avait probablement également une valeur thérapeutique puisqu’il a été prouvé par plusieurs études récentes que si un patient relate ses symptômes par écrit, cela permet de le soulager partiellement.

La transmission des sens s’effectuait d’abord du somatique au sémiotique (de la maladie et des symptômes à son expression par le patient) et du sémiotique au somatique (par le médecin qui essayait d’interpréter les mots du patients). Afin de faciliter la compréhension par le médecin, le patient utilisait très souvent des comparaisons ou des images pour représenter et détailler ce qu’il ressentait.

La connexion entre les émotions et le corps a toujours été analysée et a encore été étudiée dernièrement dans une étude publiée en 2014. Les personnes participant à l’étude devaient reporter les sensations corporelles en lien avec des émotions stimulées.

topographie corporelle

Topographie corporelle des émotions de base (supérieures) et des émotions non basiques (inférieures) associées aux mots. Les cartes du corps montrent les régions dont l’activation a augmenté (couleurs chaudes) ou diminué (couleurs froides) lorsqu’on ressent chaque émotion. (P < 0,05 FDR corrigé ; t > 1,94). La barre de couleur indique la plage de statistiques t.

Source : Bodily maps of emotions; Lauri Nummenmaa, Enrico Glerean, Riitta Hari and Jari K. Hietanen; PNAS January 14, 2014. 111 (2) 646-651.

Ce type de consultation permet de constater que la relation médecin-patient reposait sur plusieurs dimensions : précision de la sensation, précision de l’expression et précision de la transmission. Au 18ème siècle, la médecine était donc très personnalisée et individualisée puisque le lien entre le médecin et le patient, basé sur une correspondance d’écrits, permettait des traitements adaptés en fonction de chaque situation.

Aujourd’hui, la situation a changé et le patient n’écrit plus à son médecin. Ce n’est pas pour autant qu’il ne bénéficie pas d’un traitement personnalisé.

Quelles libertés dans la santé de demain ? – Bertrand Kiefer

Bertrand Kiefer nous parle de la technologie et de son impact sur le système de santé mais aussi sur notre perception de la santé en elle-même.

Le pouvoir de la technologie s’accélère et dissout progressivement les liens que l’humain entretient avec la nature. Cette domination graduelle permet de dépasser la nature. Aujourd’hui est une époque centrée sur l’hybridation entre l’humain et les machines, entre l’humain et les informations grâce à l’émergence de nouvelles technologie dans le domaine des prothèses (orthopédie, cardiologie), des organes (transplantation), des cellules (immuno-oncologie) et des gènes (technologie CRISP-Cas9).

L’individu peut être vu comme un système de données. La réalité augmentée qui en est dérivée permet de voir plus que la réalité engendrant ainsi une individualisation plus poussée ainsi qu’une nouvelle dimension de la communauté.

Régis Debray, mentionné par Bertrand Kiefer, a étudié la progression des sociétés dans le contexte de l’évolution des technologies (voir tableau ci-dessous). Selon ses propos, la période actuelle est caractérisée par les réseaux, les algorithmes et l’individualisme. La technologie a donc considérablement changé l’humain et, aujourd’hui, des tendances quelque peu extrêmes émergent, comme par exemple le solutionnisme (vision philosophique qui présuppose une solution technologique à tout problème humain) ou encore le transhumanisme (mouvement prônant l’usage des sciences et des techniques afin d’améliorer la condition humaine en supprimant la souffrance, la maladie, le vieillissement ou la mort).

mediologie

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Ces tendances soulignent toutes que la santé personnalisée est possible aujourd’hui grâce à toutes les données qui permettent des diagnostics et des traitements plus précis.

Par contre, on a perdu le concept de normalité puisqu’il n’y a plus de « bonne santé ». En effet, un être humain se positionne toujours sur un continuum car il est toujours porteur de facteurs de risque et de prédispositions. De ce fait, on n’arrive plus à distinguer ce qui est normal de ce qui est pathologique.

L’humain garde toutefois sa liberté, qui, pour l’instant, perdure encore dans les fondements de notre société. Cette liberté permet aussi de construire la relation médecin-patient à travers les décisions partagées et les discussions liées à chaque pathologie malgré des incertitudes croissantes. Les asymétries dans la transparence contribuent à ces incertitudes car les personnes et leurs données deviennent de plus en plus accessibles, à l’inverse les entreprises et les gouvernements s’enfoncent dans l’opacité tout en surveillant étroitement les individus à travers leurs données.

Même si une partie des actes médicaux pourrait être accomplie par des robots ou des auxiliaires technologiques, la relation soignant-patient comporte tellement de niveaux (langage verbal et non-verbal, plusieurs niveaux d’interaction, transfert et contre-transfert) qu’il n’est pas possible de la remplacer. Elle est également ancrée dans une communauté de destins, sous-entendant que le soignant fait preuve d’empathie puisqu’il est lui-même faillible et mortel, tout comme son patient.

Médecine personnalisée et prédictive – Christian Lovis

Christian Lovis nous parle du déterminisme sous-jacent à la médecine personnalisée et prédictive. Le déterminisme part du principe selon lequel la succession de chaque événement est déterminée en vertu du principe de causalité. Se pose alors la question de savoir dans quelle mesure nous sommes déterminés ou libres de ce qui nous arrive ?

La biologie moléculaire s’appuie principalement sur ce déterminisme qui est encore en évolution puisque l’on n’a pas encore découvert tous les marqueurs de toutes les pathologies existantes. Le lien de causalité est parfois aussi difficile à établir. Cependant, une grande partie des thérapies ciblées contre le cancer cherchent à enrayer les processus qui se cachent derrière ces marqueurs. Ceci a contribué à améliorer l’efficacité des traitements de manière significative.

Il faut toutefois être conscient que la génétique n’explique pas tout. Selon un chercheur, seuls 10% de notre santé seraient déterminés par les gènes et la biologie. A nuancer toutefois puisque lorsque la génétique est contributive, elle l’est massivement.

determinant of health

Source: Public policy frameworks for improving population health, A.R. Tarlov, Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1999;896:281-93.

Ce qui est unique en nous est beaucoup plus important que ce que l’on a en commun avec les autres êtres humains. De plus, il a été prouvé que ce n’est pas forcément la séquence codante de notre ADN qui détermine la caractéristique génétique mais les séquences régulatrices qui entourent celle qui est codante.

Les données qui caractérisent le comportement ainsi que l’écosystème dans lequel nous vivons jouent un rôle majeur dans notre santé et sont disponibles pour être analysés. Progressivement, comme discuté précédemment, la donnée va remplacer l’humain. Nous sommes tous uniques mais le danger est de devoir ressembler à une catégorie particulière avec laquelle nous avons des points communs mais qui ne nous correspond pas complètement. Cette catégorisation induira une perte de la liberté individuelle qui pourrait potentiellement entraîner une dangereuse émergence des eugénisme et hygiénisme du passé.

Les données risquent fortement de remettre en question le système solidaire qui existe aujourd’hui. Ceci est principalement lié au fait que les données qui sont collectées sont structurées et elles perdent du contenu au cours du processus de structuration. Il y a un énorme décalage entre la perception de la société civile sur la santé et la réalité. La société civile doit lutter pour comprendre cette nouvelle médecine qui est basée sur un grand nombre de données et une technologie de plus en plus imposante.

Le développement des algorithmes et de la technologie va fort probablement déplacer le rôle du soignant vers des tâches beaucoup plus humaines et empathiques tout en laissant les algorithmes décider du meilleur traitement.

Ketamine – is it the new hope for depression?

Light At The End Of The Tunnel

After decades of lack of innovation in the depression field, maybe patients having tried several treatment options could see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Ketamine is a potent analgesic used in surgery. As the compound is highly soluble in lipids, it ensures a rapid onset of the effects leading to a quick relief of depression symptoms without the typical side effects of standard antidepressants like SSRI.

However, there are some health consequences of administering that drug in the long term:

  • CNS effects: as ketamine is considered to be a cerebral vasodilator that increases cerebral blood flow, it has anticonvulsant effects. However, its use could be limited as it has also unpleasant emergence reactions such as hallucinations, out-of-body experiences, and increased and distorted visual, tactile, and auditory sensitivity.
  • Cardiovascular effects: ketamine increases blood pressure, heart rate and cardiac output.
  • Respiratory effects: ketamine relaxes bronchial smooth muscles and may be helpful in patients with reactive airways and in the management of patients experiencing bronchoconstriction.

The cardiovascular effects could limit its used in depressed patients with cardiovascular conditions. Furthermore, we know that ketamine is safe when used for anesthesia but we have no idea about its long-term safety. For depression, it is given every few weeks for several months.

Another point worth to mention is the lack of reimbursement: it is not covered by any health insurance today and patients have to pay out of the pocket. Depending on the dose and the healthcare provider, it could range from USD 400 to 800 in USA.

Currently, late-stage studies are ongoing with compounds closed to ketamine developed by Johnson & Johnson and Allergan in order to fill this gap and provide patients with access to a safe and effective drug.

Thinking forward about mental health, we could maybe study psychoactive drugs more in-depth in order to discover whether they could be used in a controlled setting to ease some mental disorders.

Initiatives are launched to go into this direction. The future will tell…

 

Additional insights:

Ketamine Stirs Up Hope—and Controversy—as a Depression Drug – Wired – 2019

Ketamine Could Be the Key to Reversing America’s Rising Suicide Rate – Bloomberg Businessweek – 2019

Can we stop suicide? – NYT – 2018

Psilocybin – A long, strange trip – Because psilocybin research has been restricted, scientists actually don’t know a lot about how it does what it does; only recently has that started to change. To begin with, its chemical structure is similar to the neurotransmitter serotonin. Evidence from a 2012 study suggests that psilocybin “knocks out” serotonin receptors by occupying them, which “appears to allow information to travel more freely in the brain”; two areas in which it knocks out some activity are associated with self-awareness. – Quartz – 2018

Mind molding psychedelic drugs could treat depression, and other mental illnesses – The Conversation – 2018

The Effects of Cannabis Among Adults With Chronic Pain and an Overview of General Harms: A Systematic Review – Annals of Internal Medicine – 2017

Benefits and Harms of Plant-Based Cannabis for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Systematic Review – Annals of Internal Medicine – 2017

The Ketamine Breakthrough for Suicidal Children – Scientific American – 2017

New Hope for Depression – TIME – 2017

The War on Drugs Halted Research Into the Potential Benefits of Psychedelics – Slate – 2017

Scientists and Silicon Valley want to prove psychoactive drugs are healthy – The Guardian – 2016

End the Ban on Psychoactive Drug Research – Scientific American – 2014

 

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100 objects that shaped public health

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An amazing article posted on the website of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health details the 100 objects that changed our life, in positive or negative way.

As you will see, you could spend hours discovering those objects and, one by one, you will either discover something you ignored or confirm what you already know. But basically, each one will relate to one aspect of your health.

From Aerosol Cans to Cigarettes, from Airbag to Gin Tonic, from the Horseshoe Crab to the Hard Hat.

This article really deserve a blog post as it will really inform us on the historical background of each of those objects.

 

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Biomimetics – How Nature can help us in solving complex problems

lotus3

Biomimetics are fascinating as, very often, nature is better skilled than humans to solve complex problems. Historically, humans started to look at birds to be able to develop airplanes to fly themselves. Biomimetics applications are extremely wide, especially because of the complexity of biological systems and, also probably, for the reason that scientists have not yet uncovered all the mysteries of Nature itself.

Life sciences would strongly benefit from more Nature-inspired innovations like spider web silk used for artificial ligaments thank to their strength and robustness. Other amazing examples come from the virus world: most viruses have an outer capsule 20 to 300nm in diameter, which are remarkably robust and capable of withstanding temperatures as high as 60 °C; they are also stable across the pH range 2-10. Viral capsules can then be used to create nano device components such as nanowires, nanotubes, and nanomaterial. Last but not least, viruses (in their inactivated form) are very often used as carriers for other molecules and allow the delivery of drugs to very precise locations in the human body.

Biomimetics as innovation method is characterized by interdisciplinary information transfer from the life sciences to technical application fields aiming at increased performance, functionality and energy efficiency.

Before jumping in the library or clicking on the links shown below, have a look at the TED Talk Playlist on Biomimetics or Biomimicry. You’ll discover stunning examples and fascinating technologies.

Biomimetics is definitely a field where we need to invest more.

 

More to discover:

Innovations

Biomimetics innovations

14 Smart Inventions Inspired by Nature: Biomimicry – Bloomberg – 2015

Life sciences

Biomimetics: forecasting the future of science, engineering, and medicine – International Journal of Nanomedicine – 2015: biomimetics-forecasting-the-future-of-science-engineering-and-medicine-2015

The state of the art in biomimetics – Bioinspiration & Biomimetics Review – 2012: 2012-bioinspirationbiomimetics-the-state-of-the-art-in-biomimetics

Nanomedicine and biomimetics: life sciences meet engineering: nanomedicine_and_biomimetics_life_sciences_meet_en_2009

Biomimetics: Design by Nature – National Geographic – 2008

Biomimetic Materials for Tissue Engineering – Advanced Drug Delivery Review – 2007

Biomaterials

Living, breathing biomimetic meta materials – MaterialsToday – 2016

Biomimicry: Designing to Model Nature – Whole Building Design Guide – 2014

Biological materials sciences – Max Plank Institute – 2010

Biomimetic Solutions to Sticky Problems – Science – 2007

 

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Advances in Oncology Drug Discovery – Sachs Conference Talk by Roche pRED Head of Oncology DTA, William Pao

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A fascinating talk about cancer drug discovery was given by Dr. William Pao, Head of Oncology Discovery and Translational Area (DTA) at Roche Pharmaceutical Research and Early Development (pRED) during the Sachs 16th Annual Biotech in Europe Forum.

He started to explain what is cancer, for us to gain more insights:

  • cancer is a genetic disease: tumors can harbor over 400 somatic mutations
  • cancer is heterogenous: there are more than 200 types of cancers and a single patient tumor displays intra and inter-tumoral heterogeneity
  • cancer can metastasize: once spread, it is virually incurable. Metastatic cancer survival at 5 years is extremely low (between 4 and 28%)

Based on those considerations, treatment is becoming much more complex today with a blend of chemotherapy, targeted medicines and immunotherapies. A right combination could extend survival by several months.

But how to develop drugs with increased efficacy against the smart strategies used by the disease (such as tumor angiogenesis)? According to Dr. Pao, 3 elements are necessary:

  • understanding disease biology as well as druggable targets in the complexity of cancer molecular pathways
  • developing fit-for-purpose molecules allowing to create the right drug with the right format against the right target
  • personalizing healthcare with the administration of the right drug to the right patient at the right time

Beyond a better understanding of the disease, using more than a single strategy to target the cancer:

  • Host directed with cancer immunotherapy. This approach is particularly challenging as some patients do not respond to it (innate or acquired immune escape) and other patients may fully benefit with long term survival
  • Tumor directed with targeted medicines

External innovation, collaborations and partnerships, is fully leveraged in order for Roche to complement existing capabilities in the field (immunotherapy examples: CuraDev, Pieris, BluePrint; targeted medicines: Tensha, C4Therapeutics).

As a conclusion, Roche is well positioned to address the cancer challenges and, since the beginning of innovative cancer treatments, the company has always been perceived as the leader of the therapeutic area.

addressingcancerchallenge

Missing points in his talk were considerations of patient’s quality of life (extending life does not always go with good quality of life because of treatment’s side effects) and drug pricing (adding more and more drugs to the treatment cocktail costs a lot of financial resources, not only paid by the health insurance but also by the patient).

 

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DNA methyltransferase 1 has a role in the establishment and regulation of tissue-specific patterns of methylated cytosine residues. Aberrant methylation patterns are associated with certain human tumors. www.enzymlogic.com. Work done with the molecular visualization VMD program developed at the University of Illinois: www.ks.uiuc.edu/Research/vmd/

E-health Day – Internet of Me: Vision and Challenges

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I had the opportunity to attend the e-health day in Sierre (TechnoArk) on June 3rd 2016. The event was well organized around big players (Boston Scientific, Roche), showing their vision of the technology and its implementation in their own business model, and startups (L.I.F.E. Corporation, Karmagenes) unveiling their innovations in the field. Moreover, other stakeholders like the health insurance Groupe Mutuel and government-financed agency CIPRET presented their real-world experiences. The event was closed by a panel discussion on the relationships between eDoctors and ePatients.

Globally, the vision of health is: health care providers will be able to improve health outcomes by working with digital patients (the data collected by sensors will be integrated and analyze to provide personalized treatments and consequently better outcomes). Several projects are developed: prosthesis control, diabetes management, vital signs monitoring for elderly people…

Below I summarize the key takeaways from the most interesting talks (not all of them).

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BOSTON SCIENTIFIC – MEDTECH : WHICH BUSINESS MODEL FOR THE E-PATIENT ?
By Frédéric Briguet, EU Digital Health Engagement

  • The goal of the presentation was to provide clues on which business model is the most appropriate for digital health companies.
  • Medical technology companies create and develop products for patients but they really have to be aware of their ecosystem and the influences that will drive patients’ behavior.
    Body sensors brought revolutionary tools to life. They are wireless, responsive, use mobile devices and allow data analysis to be performed. However, what is the real impact on health and disease management? Many companies have sensors supported by solid hardware, cloud data collection and a dashboard for mobile phone.
  • Despite the evolution of technology, we are still lacking clinical studies and proofs. In addition, the user dropout rate is pretty high (after 6 to 8 months, users abandon the sensor(s) and the app). Needless to say that, on top of all the previous disadvantages, the amount of data generated is extremely heavy and it is difficult to extract the most relevant indicators to analyze them.
    However, the first digital health products helped open new perspectives and the potential of connections between all the stakeholders. Empowering and engaging healthcare providers is also one of the key benefits of the first digital health initiatives. Beyond those elements, what’s crucial to ensure adoption and reimbursement is to demonstrate the cost savings the technology could bring to the current health care settings. Doctors also have to support it and be convinced of the use and utility for their own patients.
  • All in all, the future of healthcare is expected to improve outcomes, reduce hospital readmission rate and control costs while maintaining care access.
  • The experience of the speaker allowed him to say which business models where the most appropriate to survive and thrive in that new field. He established 4 directions (that can be combined):
    1. The patient is not a consumer. Generally speaking, he is not really willing to know that he’s ill. His main focus is to live. Family and friends are the most concerned about the patient’s health and wellbeing. Creating and developing tools that could ease the burden for the supportive people around the patient is generally well received and adopted.
    2. Understand the business ecosystem. Knowing where to position the company is fundamental to avoid being stuck in a no man’s land. Focusing on lifestyle, coaching or care pathways is different and requirements increase massively for the care pathway segment.
    3. The population is ageing and increasing. The health care system will have to support an additional financial burden with the passing of the years because we know that the majority of the costs is generated toward the end of life. Hospitals are paid today according to their own efficiency (shorter hospital stays as well as improved outcomes will generate higher payments from heath insurances). It is the OPM principle (Other People Money) meaning that the patient (who consumes) is not the payer. It is then crucial to find new solutions to reduce the costs.
    4. Understanding the disease is more than fundamental. Compliance and adherence management and control in order to avoid hospital readmissions is one of the main issues of the whole healthcare system. Beyond that point, enhancing and improving the patient’s experience as well as the quality of care could well trigger new motivations for the patient to be compliant to his treatment.
  • Go beyond sensors-mobile-cloud-dashbord to include blockchain technology, augmented reality, internet of things… + any relevant technology or innovation that can bring value to the system. This value has to be demonstrated and proved as viable for the whole system.
  • The technology has to be integrated in the patient’s experience, nearly invisible, but not less complex.

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PATIENTS LIKE ME – THE POWER OF WE
By Chris Fidyk, Business Development Director Europe

  • Accelerating research and development of new treatment but also allowing patients to support each other and exchange life experience with a disease is the main goal of PatientsLikeMe. That network is maybe the smallest social network but the larger medical registry with more than 500’000 patients. Patientslikeme provides tools for patients to put their disease into context.
  • Today, there is a lot of momentum about patient centricity. It becomes more mainstream. Patients owe other patients their own experience (drugs, symptoms,…). Empowering people to express themselves about their journey in the disease. Then, when all the stories are aggregated, meanings and trends can be extracted.
  • It is also possible to see all people taking the same drug, its perceived effectiveness as well as some conversation analytics allowing to understand which symptoms are the most talked about, the treatment awareness, the barriers to access in addition to the reasons behind their treatment failure or cessation or continuation.
  • Data (experience and discussions) stay online and available even when the patient dies to enrich other patients’ lives. Regular video postings on Patientslikeme Youtube channel show patients sharing their own experience with the website and how it helps them cope with their disease.

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ROCHE DIABETES CARE – EHEALTH: THE FUTURE WE CREATE TODAY
By Horst Merkle, Diabetes Management Solutions Director

  • You can only do something with data when you can access to it.
  • Infrastructure is the foundation for innovation and creativity” – as quoted by a speaker at the Connected Health Conference.
  • How to meet the future? The lack of healthcare staff, the increase in chronic diseases and the rising healthcare costs are the challenges. How to manage them: accountability and empowerment for the patient and the consumer. Mastering your own health with less health and care services.
  • Today, technology-driven health is messy. The solutions have to be easy to use and secure for the patient.
  • The Personal Connected Health Alliance (PCHA) is at the forefront of health and wellness in today’s society, driving advancements in mobile and communications technologies, and the growing use of new devices, health trackers and apps by consumers and healthcare providers.
  • PCHA brings together the critical elements needed to ensure that these technologies are user-friendly, secure and can easily collect, display and relay personal health data. In PCHA’s vision for healthcare, consumers can use readily available technologies to access their personal health data, receive targeted health and wellness education, consult with healthcare providers and gain support from friends and family to improve their health.
  • PCHA focused on engaging consumers with their health via personalized health solutions designed for user-friendly connectivity (interoperability) that meet their lifestyle needs.
  • Business models are the main obstacles for interoperability to work.
  • Accu-Check Connect System from Roche provides an integrated meter, an app, and online tools for better diabetes management. The glucometer can share data in the cloud with the healthcare provider.

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WITHINGS – FROM QUANTIFIED SELF TO PREVENTIVE MEDICINE
By Alexis Normand, Health Development Director

  • The main goal of Withings is to sell connected products to the general public. Those products can be bought in supermarkets and will help the consumer monitor vital signs such as weight, blood pressure,… Without being a doctor, the consumer can create a dashboard for his health. Changes in health are driven by him and, due to the fact that he generates data, he will be at the center of the data collection and analysis.
  • Those tools could also be used to enhance corporate wellness and engage employees through gamification. Employers will offer a connected bracelet and will organize a competition. Employers are however inherently screening employees for health issues and can analyze aggregated data to discover trends. Data around workout and physical activity are enriched by environmental and lifestyle inputs but also by stress management and absenteeism information.
  • In the e-health field, we are in the prevention area and also on new territories like personal health dashboard and employer focus on employees’ health.
  • E-health could be widely applied together with EHRs (Electronic Health Records). Linking EHRs to outcomes allow hospitals to monitor their performance to get more money from payers as they will limit the expenses for the system as a whole.
  • Withings also builds an open health data platform with the implementation of national observatories aggregating data from all the users. Those platforms will support research on connected devices with scientific publication and could stimulate partnerships and collaborations with other data sources.

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GROUPE MUTUEL – IGNILIFE – DAILY HEALTH COACH
By Stéphane Andematten, Marketing Leader

  • Real world business case from concept to realization in partnership with the startup Ignilife.
  • Today more than 165’000 health apps are available with 40% dedicated to medical uses and 60% to wellness.
    Regarding Switzerland, few initiatives have been developed to date. Groupe Mutuel would like to be the forerunner and not a follower in the field.
  • Ignilife is a French startup with a subsidiary in Switzerland. It is the perfect combination of entrepreneurship, medical skills and user experience. Ignilife has a previous experience with Malakoff Médéric, the leader for private health insurance in France.
  • Ignilife is a e-coaching platform based on people. It covers physical and emotional wellbeing. A first auto-evaluation is performed by the user in order to have a broad overview. An assessment is then released by the system with risk factors and advices to manage and lower their impact. Support and follow-up is provided as a selection of programs the user can choose from. He can also connect his devices.
    Close to 300 video and audio plays are available. Each time a contest or challenge is won, it is input in the platform to show the progress and evolution.
  • It is essential to develop a rich, engaging and fun platform to keep the user motivated. The goals set are reasonable and not out of reach. There is a social media component where users can exchange experience and tips. More functionalities will be developed in the next future (health at work, back health, burnout prevention,…)
    Data protection is well managed, as all the data are stored in Switzerland on independent servers.
  • Groupe Mutuel pretends it does not use data collected by user but only on an aggregated basis. The rationale behind the implementation of such a project is the focus on prevention. It will help to keep health expenses at an acceptable level in the longer term.
  • Some stats:
    25’000 Ignilife users (out of more than 1’100’000 insured people)
    Mobile users connect much more than desktop users (2x)
    91% did their auto-evaluation
    61% engaged in a coaching program
    47% changed their habits

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MANAGE MY DATA OR BE MANAGED BY MY DATA
By Stéphane Koch, Expert in Digital Experience

  • People like to measure their own weight, the calories they burnt, their heart rate,…
    There is a real value added in using quantified self.
    However, coherence is not always part of the measures and can distort statistics extracted out of the data. Sensors sometimes lose connection with the app leaving gaps or errors in measures. Improving apps with coherence system would be a big step further or even allowing the user to correct the data himself.
  • Quantified self generally has a positive impact on the user’s wellbeing but it can also generate stress if the progress takes time to emerge or if it stops. Knowing the scope of the technology as well as his body are fundamental.
  • The website DMD (in French) allows the evaluation of digital tools and the sharing of everyone’s user experience.

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CIPRET – 7000 SWISS PEOPLE STOPPED SMOKING THANK TO A FACEBOOK PROGRAM
By Alexandre Dubuis, PhD, CIPRET Valais leader

  • CIPRET is a center for the prevention of tobacco use, recognized of public interest by authorities.
    It launched early 2016 a program to help people stop smoking via Facebook.
  • A real human adventure started and succeeded. The initiative was in 2 phases: recruitment and program on the same platform. It was completely free for the users. They just had to like the page, say they are interested and accept that all the posts written by CIPRET were the first they saw when they opened their Facebook app.
  • 3 pillars of the program:
    – Daily advices (personalized and not always linked to tobacco consumption)
    – Group support (tips and experience sharing)
    – Physical desire to smoke (will only last between 3 and 5 minutes => tips given to avoid relapse).
  • Professional support has been organized at 3 levels : the first one, community managers answer simple questions ; the second one, prevention experts take specific questions ; the third level, medical practioners take care of medical questions.
  • Some stats:
    1’500 posts created
    Support was on call during the whole week from 6am to 11pm
    13’000 messages have been answered in the first weeks
  • Key strengths: no moral scolding, always up-to-date, focus on workouts, nutrition, Sunday evening chats, real meeting groups.

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L.I.F.E – EXPRESS YOUR TRUTH THROUGH YOUR ACCURATE DATA
By Dario Ossola, PhD, Algorithm R&D Coordinator

  • L.I.F.E stands for Live – Inspire – Free – Entertain
  • The project started at the core of The Ark and focused on predictive models for tiredness, exhaustion and strain with the development of a garment.
    That garment is equipped with sensors to monitor vital signs (it is medically accurate and there is no need of a smartphone). It allows total freedom.
    It can be the third platform of communication (with the first 2 being computers and smartphones).
  • The medical accuracy is fundamental and it can be used in medical practice but also in sports. That garment has the same results as the invasive methods to analyze vital signs. It allows real life measurements and expansive communication (data omnipresence, diverse data analysis levels).
  • Two web sites: http://x10x.com/ (for women) and http://x10y.com/ (for men)

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ISYPEM2 – PERSONALIZATION OF TREATMENT DOAGE THANK TO MEDICAL DATABASES
By Séverine Petitprez, Scientific associate, Clinical pharmacology CHUV and Alevtina Dubovitskaya, Research assistant, HES-SO Valais

  • Software for personalized treatment dosage.
    Unique treatment dosage works very well for simple drugs like paracetamol. Unfortunately, for oncology or chronic diseases drugs, which are much more complex molecules, it doesn’t work as well. It can lead to toxicity, side effects or no effect at all.
  • Therapeutic follow-up normally starts with a blood sample, pharmacology experts interact and guide the doctor in order to personalize the treatment.
  • A new software (EzeCHieL) do exactly the same but in a much faster and more practical way. The software can create the patient’s drug metabolism curve based on the EHR (Electronic Health Record) and medical databases. Some genetic characteristics or co-morbidities can lead to changes in drug blood concentration.
  • Interoperability (web interface) as well as confidentiality and data security are guaranteed (pseudonymisation, anonymisation).

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KARMAGENES – BE A GAME CHANGER MEET YOURSELF
By Kyriakos Kokkoris, CEO

  • Karmagenes is a game combining gene profiling and psychological analysis. Integrating genetics with psychology for improved personal development.
  • What defines who you are: what you are (DNA) and where you live (environment & perception).
  • Genetics meet psychology.
  • Human centric approach
  • Could be a network of personalities and connect locally.
  • Personal guide for career development, personal motivation, and physical as well as emotional well-being.

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PANEL DISCUSSION – E-DOCTORS AND E-PATIENTS, AN EMERGING RELATIONSHIP
Moderated by Sébastien Mabillard, Swiss Digital Health coordinator with 5 paticipants: Dr. Jean-Gabriel Jeannot; Dr. Pietro Scalfaro; Pierre-Mikael Legris; Christine Bienvenu; David-Zacharie Issom.

  • The market is not yet mature, a lot of opportunities are waiting to be seized.
    The patient is at the center of all motivations.
  • Despite new technologies, there is a lot to do to reach the patient. Few success stories (the CIPRET is however an excellent example).
  • What about doctors’ digital education? Patients are really driving the trend today; they stimulate doctors to be up to date and they push technology adoption.
    Patients are very often looking for information online. Doctors should be prepared and help patients to use the right web sites in order to find appropriate and correct information. Doctors should also contribute and provide content on website to populate them with correct information.
  • All that information help to start interesting conversations. Information exchange should also be facilitated. The patient could be educated to provide the appropriate amount of information to avoid overload.
  • Patient should take part and be part of medical research. The patient is the least used resource in health care. With patients’ associations, precious information is stored and exchanged. That data can be analyzed.
  • The social component is extremely important for patients. Several of them like to share their experience and find support online. They also feel useful to provide information for other that have been diagnosed recently.
  • By giving access to medical and health information, communication and interactions with doctors will be easier and improved.

Life Sciences Innovation Hotspot

LSIHS_April2016

An event has been organized in Geneva (Campus Biotech) in order to give an overview of funding opportunities in R&D in Switzerland. European as well as Swiss opportunities were explained, each time with insightful success stories and business cases.

That event combined both useful information together with relevant stories of companies having experienced the process, sometimes time-consuming but clearly worth the efforts.

Horizon 2020 was an extremely important topic during the event as Switzerland is now in a partial association framework with EC (Fact Sheet on the Status of Switzerland in Horizon 2020).

Below I summarized the key points and “take home messages” from the event in a MindMap format (much better than taking notes and reading them afterwards).

The event was organized by Inartis and BioAlps.

LifeSciencesInnovationHotspot_April2016.png

 

 

The potential for disruption in healthcare by Apple

Port_and_lighthouse_overnight_storm_with_lightning_in_Port-la-Nouvelle

A lot has been said about the role of Apple in healthcare, the disruption it could bring and the need for it. If Steve Jobs was alive today, he would surely help the healthcare industry improve.

There is a lot of work and some progress are currently being made but they are slow to implement because evolution is not always seen as such (we all know about the learning curve…).

Apple is not the only company that could bring change and improvements, even disruption, in healthcare. All the technology companies are interested in this field and they will inevitably contribute to change the landscape.

What could Apple bring?

Analyze and integrate health data

The introduction of HealthKit in June 2014 was the start of a big wave of healthcare initiatives launched by Apple. Data collected via the HealthKit through wearables like the Apple Watch can be shared with the user’s doctor in order to improve the doctor-patient relationship. Data can then be integrated in the EHRs (Electronic Health Records) of the patient in order to enlarge the data collection.

Beyond data collection stands data analysis and it’s done with the help of the partnership with IBM Watson to support this effort.

Improve EHRs and real-time medical data to broaden prevention initiatives

Merging EHR and real-time data could enable the use of predictive analytics to anticipate health issues and diseases spread.

The implementation of EHRs could simplify and quicken the collection, use and consultation of medical data, especially in the case of emergencies. This could dramatically help to avoid medical errors due to the lack of specific retrospective information.

Partnerships

Apple has been and is still extremely smart in building strategic partnerships. 3 main partners worth keeping in mind:

  • IBM Watson: storage and analysis of raw data on IBM Watson Health Cloud for the data collected on HealthKit and ResearchKit.
  • Mayo Clinic: access to over 1 million patients in several countries around the world using dedicated proprietary EHR and communication tools for doctor-patient interactions.
  • Epic Systems: expertise in EHR covering over 100m people in USA.

HealthKit & ResearchKit

The main goal of the HealthKit is to collect data from wearables and other connected devices to better monitor individual health. HealthKit also allows the integration of 3rd party apps and devices.

ResearchKit is an add-on to the HealthKit as it helps create apps to improve clinical trials and medical studies.

Apple Watch v. 2.0 and new wearables

The new versions of the Apple Watch could potentially be developed into more sophisticated health-tracking devices with improved heart rate monitor. Moreover, thank to non-invasive technologies, new vital signs could to be captured and analyzed more accurately.

 

Related sources:

Why healthcare needs a Steve Jobs-like disruptor, STAT, February 2016.

Three More Industries Apple Could Disrupt, re/code, July 2015.

Steve Jobs didn’t disrupt, he adapted. So should healthcare, Becker’s Hospital Review, July 2014.

The Industries Apple Could Disrupt Next, Harvard Business Review, June 2014.

 

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Gender-specific medicine is necessary

Couple

What’s gender-specific medicine?

As stated in a well-known article, “Gender-specific medicine is the study of how diseases differ between men and women in terms of prevention, clinical signs, therapeutic approach, prognosis, psychological and social impact. It is a neglected dimension of medicine.” Medical research conducted over the past 40 years has focused almost exclusively on male patients.

How men and women are different?

Differences could lead to wrong diagnosis, symptoms underestimation, and even premature death. Differences appear in a variety of domains such as:

  • PKPD (pharmacokinetics & pharmacodynamics): efficacy and side effects profiles as well as drug-drug interactions.
  • cardiovascular diseases: risk factors for these diseases; clinical manifestations; influence of drugs (see below for more).
  • cancer: incidence; aggressiveness and prognosis.
  • liver diseases: epidemiology and progression.

The main goal

The main goal of gender medicine is focused on understanding the differences of patho-physiology, clinical signs, prevention and treatment of diseases equally represented in men and women.

Advocacy

Advocacy in this field is emerging with amazing women like Marianne Legato, Alyson McGregor and Noel Bairey Merz, whose conference and TED Talks below really show the decisive importance of this discipline.

Conclusion

Traditionally, research has been done almost entirely on men and those conclusions were then applied to both men and women. Even though the law requires that women be included in studies, the gender-different results are almost never analyzed. Instead, they are blended. This is detrimental to both men and women. Perhaps now is the time for everything in research and medicine to be reviewed in the light of potentially significant gender differences.

Additional resources:

The Foundation for Gender-specific Medicine

Why Sex Matters

Women’s Heart Attacks Look Nothing Like Men’s – TIME – 2016

Gender-Specific Medicine in the Genomic Era – Clinical Science – 2015

Sexism In The Doctor’s Office Starts Here – Even actual lab rats are subjected to science’s male bias – HuffPost – 2015

Why Gender-Specific Medicine Matters in the Emergency Department – Emergency Physicians Monthly – 2015

Gender medicine: a task for the third millennium – Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine – 2013

Men and women get sick in different ways: Developing gender-specific medicine is a major challenge of the future – Science Daily – 2013

Incorporating and evaluating an integrated gender-specific medicine curriculum: a survey study in Dutch GP training – BMC Medical Education – 2009

 

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The future of medicine? Cells not pills

Siddhartha Mukherjee is a visionary cancer doctor and the writer of an awesome book about cancer published few years ago.

In the TED talk below, he takes us through a fantastic journey about the future of medicine and how it could change soon.

Medicine started with simple principles, such as have disease, take pill and kill something. It worked and is still functioning as of today for specific diseases. However, the future is elsewhere.

The natural world gives us some clues about how one might think about illness. In fact, the natural world is organized hierarchically upwards, not downwards. It begins with a cell that give rise to self-regulating, semi-autonomous units called organs, and these organs coalesce to form humans, and these organisms ultimately live in environments.

Siddhartha Mukherjee takes the example of cancer. To tackle this disease, we started to kill cells with chemotherapeutic agents and targeted therapies, then we realized that it would be a nice idea to harvest the immune system in the war against cancer. This gave birth to immuno-oncology drugs bringing extraordinary outcomes to patients. The next step is to change the environment but it is much more challenging…

Stem cells are also part of the solution according to Siddhartha Mukherjee. However, it raises tons of questions… as what’s at stake is not killing something, but growing something. This means that we need to think upside-down and shift our views as well as our traditional thinking.

  • Could your medicine be a cell and not a pill?
  • How would we grow these cells?
  • What we would we do to stop the malignant growth of these cells? Could we implant suicide genes into these cells to stop them from growing?
  • Could your medicine be an organ that’s created outside the body and then implanted into the body? Could that stop some of the degeneration? What if the organ needed to have memory?
  • Could your medicine be an environment? In every culture, shamans have been using environments as medicines. Could we imagine that for our future?

It is very often said that the reason we haven’t had the transformative impact on the treatment of illness is because we don’t have powerful-enough drugs, and that’s partly true. But perhaps the real reason is that we don’t have powerful-enough ways of thinking about medicines.

US drug pricing is on the verge of change

MoneyPills

Drug pricing is always a topic for discussion regardless of the country where you live.

The USA have long been considered as the most expensive country when it comes to drugs. Today, several initiatives are trying to contain their price and limit the explosion of healthcare expenditures. It is not easy and several political leaders failed in front of the powerful lobby supporting the pharmaceutical industry.

Maybe, instead of price cuts, we should think of more nuanced version of price control like value-based pricing or risk-sharing agreements.

An extremely interesting article explore the future opportunity of risk-sharing agreements in the USA. It is widely used in Europe as well as in other countries but shows a slow uptake in the USA. The conclusion of the article is positive as there is room for improvement. “Most manufacturers and payers expressed interest in RSAs and see potential value in their use. Due to numerous barriers associated with outcomes-based agreements, stakeholders were more optimistic about financial-based RSAs. In the US private sector, however, there remains considerable interest—improved data systems and shifting incentives (via health reform and accountable care organizations) may generate more action.”

However, despite hot debate launched by Hillary Clinton recently about drug pricing, the US Congress is still dominated by Republicans, who is completely supporting the pharmaceutical industry. Drug pricing and healthcare coverage will be one of the hottest debate question of the US Presidential Elections this fall.

Some articles are much less optimistic as they show that the bargaining power of private payers is far from sufficient to be able to negotiate discounts.

Drug pricing has to change in the USA because affordability and healthcare coverage will define the sales potential of the product. If the drug is so expensive that no one can afford it and no insurance will pay for it, it has no future sales opportunity. It is key to find a good balance between rewarding innovation and R&D efforts AND allowing patients to access the medicine and care they need.

 

Additional resources:

Private Sector Risk-Sharing Agreements in the United States: Trends, Barriers, and Prospects – American Journal of Managed Care – September 2015

It’s Time to Rein in Exorbitant Pharmaceutical Prices – HBR – September 2015

Why we can’t stop US drug companies from charging astronomical prices – Quartz – September 2015

Drug prices: Which companies may be the next targets? – CNBC – September 2015

Rational Drug Pricing – Huffpost Business – September 2015

Why Are Drug Costs So High in the United States? – Medscape – November 2014

High Cancer Drug Prices in the United States: Reasons and Proposed Solutions – ASCO – July 2014

Higher US Branded Drug Prices And Spending Compared To Other Countries May Stem Partly From Quick Uptake Of New Drugs – Health Affairs – April 2013

Pricing and Reimbursement in U.S. Pharmaceutical Markets – NBER – August 2010

 

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Alphabet (ex-Google) is the next big thing in Life sciences

A lot is currently written about the initiatives launched by Alphabet (Google) in the life sciences field.

I had the wonderful opportunity to have a look at the report written by the internet analyst, John Blackledge, from Cowen and I must say that he’s very smart at showing the huge potential of the life sciences at the core of Alphabet (Google).

This report is amazing as it allows you to have a better understanding of what’s happening now inside Alphabet (Google). I summarized the key points/quotes from the report below and I added other articles at the end of this blog post. Moreover, I will update it frequently as the news come in. This is a fascinating topic, I really hope Alphabet (Google) would be able to replicate the same success it has built with its search engine.

Key quotes & comments from the report:

  • Expansion into health care and related segments allows Google to leverage its core competencies in Internet communications technology, data structuring and analysis, and fundamental process reinvention.

 

  • Specific areas of focus in healthcare include:
    (1) the sequencing the human genome and the rise of precision medicine: despite the monumental significance of mapping the human genome and the implications for drug discovery, this was but one step in a long journey that continues to this day. Moreover, genes are but one factor in disease, and little is known about what role environment and lifestyle play.
    (2) the digitization of health data is exploding, with a virtually endless list of sources that can offer insight into clinical data, drug studies and more. As more data is digitized, there will be a profound impact on how patient care is administered, how therapies are researched, and how drugs are tested. EHRs (Electronic Health Records) are crucial but implementation is very challenging. Harmonization and data aggregation need to find their way. Wearables are another interesting topic in the digitization of health data. Social media and discussion boards as well as patients website are essential parts of the system that must be closely monitored as more and more patients use those communication channels in order to provide feedback and comments on treatments and daily struggles with healthcare providers.
    (3) the shift to value-based care, where payments are based on the value of care, is driving a change in how services are delivered and how much consumers engage in the process. From a provider perspective, doctors are incentivized to manage patients to the best possible health outcome at the lowest cost. From a patient perspective,
    consumers are being empowered to take a more active role in their own health care.
    These health care trends are being accommodated by technology advances in areas such as social, mobile, analytics and cloud computing, all areas of Google expertise.

 

  • Alphabet invests in health in five different ways:
    (1) Google Life Sciences originated in Google[x], a research lab within Google that was funded by the company’s board of directors in January 2010 to pursue “moonshots”—audacious new projects that have a low probability of succeeding, but could be truly revolutionary if they do. The company views moonshots as critical in driving the true innovation required to affect revolutionary change and avoid the “incrementalism” or evolutionary change that tends to lead to corporate irrelevance over time. The Life Sciences team is responsible for such innovations as glucose monitoring smart contact lenses. With an expanding list of intellectual property, Life Sciences has begun to accelerate its collaborative efforts with third parties. The company is aggressively partnering with leading players in the health care space on a growing number of programs.
    (2) Calico’s mission is to harness advanced technologies to increase understanding of the biology that controls lifespan. Calico was originally conceived by Google Ventures President and General Partner, Bill Maris, who observed that most companies seek to find treatments for disease and associated symptoms, but that none address the root cause of disease and death. He wondered if studying the impact of aging on genetic material could lead to the discovery of drugs that could address many age-related diseases and significantly extend the human life span.
    (3) Google Ventures has provided seed, venture and growth stage funding to a host of companies in diverse fields, but its stated focus is machine learning and life science investing.
    (4) Google Capital was formed to invest in later-stage technology companies with a focus on emerging technology leaders and potential disruptors. Unlike the earlier stage companies in Google’s other investment vehicles, the later stage companies in Google Capital tend to be fairly common household names. Although the stated focus of Google Capital is on technology companies, the collision of technology and health care is blurring the lines of what a traditional “technology” company looks like.
    (5) Google Core: Over time, Google has invested in numerous health-related initiatives within its main corporate division. These have tended to be very closely linked to the company’s core businesses, such as Search. Earlier this year, the company announced that it will add health information that has been fact-checked by physicians directly to search results. The company is also talking to the FDA about using search query data to identify adverse drug reactions.

 

  • Google’s Health-Related Focus Areas: regardless of where they are housed within Google’s corporate structure, most of Google’s health-related endeavors share common characteristics.
    (1) Longevity
    (2) Genetics and Chronic Care
    (3) Diagnostics
    (4) Diabetes/Digital Health
    (5) Medical Devices
    (6) Telehealth/Digital Health
    (7) Wearables/Fitness

 

  • Google’s health endeavors fit with the company’s goals of “making the world’s information useful” and helping millions of people. Indeed, Google believes that many of the same principles, techniques and problem solving capabilities employed by its software developers can be applied to the massive inefficiencies that exist in health care to create transformational solutions and medical breakthroughs that help people live longer, healthier lives. Health care ambitions can be summarized as:
    (1) Analyze: Analytics to inform decision-making and provide business insight
    (2) Attract: Attract health care constituents to platforms and solutions that drive engagement
    (3) Aggregate: Aggregate data from disparate sources onto the Internet or GCP

 

Additional resources:

Alphabet to help researchers predict disease – Financial Times – April 2017

Google Life Sciences Exodus – STAT – March 2016

Verily, Google’s Health Gambit, Is Stacked With Scientists. Now It Needs to Build a Business – ReCode – December 2015

Google hires mental health expert to lead new life sciences unit – Financial Times – September 2015 (Subscription required)

Head of Mental Health Institute Leaving for Google Life Sciences – The New York Times – September 2015

Google Bets on Insurance Startup Oscar Health – WSJ – September 2015

Is Health Care Google’s Next Big Business After Search? This Investment Bank Thinks So – Re/Code – September 2015

Why Google Is Going All In On Diabetes – NPR – September 2015

Google’s health startup, AbbVie team up on drug research – Chicago-Sun Times – September 2015

Google Life Sciences Company Has New Deal, Official Nemesis in Diabetes – Re/Code – August 2015

Alphabet Breathes New Life, Resources Into Google’s Health Care Projects – iHealthBeat – August 2015

Google Health – Easy as ABC. Alphabet, Calico and the Aging of Humanity – What on Earth are they doing? – Digital Intervention – August 2015

 

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Using “Tumour-Traps” to Monitor The Spread of Breast Cancer

Excellent & insightful article on how it is now possible to track cancer progression.

Snackable Science

Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in the UK, with approximately 50,000 British women diagnosed with the disease every year. Despite this high occurrence, breast cancer patients have relatively good prospects and almost 80% of sufferers are still alive 10 years after their initial diagnosis. One factor that influences a patient’s chances of survival is the presence or absence of secondary tumours, which occur when cancer cells spread from the breast and establish themselves in other parts of the body.

In research published this month in the journal Nature Communications, a team of scientists led by the University of Michigan’s Dr Lonnie Shea describe an exciting new material, which can be implanted under the skin to capture invasive cancer cells as they move throughout the body. “Tumour traps” like this could be used in the future as part of an early warning system to alert doctors to the…

View original post 497 more words

Open innovation – Is the pharmaceutical industry ready?

Open innovation is a fascinating topic. According to Dr. Henry Chesbrough, who is the co-founder of the Open Innovation Community, “Informally, open innovation is the idea that companies should make greater use of external ideas and technologies in their own business, and allow unused internal ideas to flow out to others for use in their business. It is the antithesis of a closed innovation process which relies on internal R&D and deep vertical integration.”

The traditional business model of pharma (based on blockbuster multi-billion sales generating products) has shown its weaknesses and is today doomed to fail. The industry must reinvent itself and open innovation is thought as one tool among others to help reconnect with R&D productivity and profitability.

What could be the advantages of open innovation for pharma?

  • go beyond the closed model of innovation. Collaborate and try to find the best companies for each project instead of the companies focusing on the same targets with differentiated successes…
  • focus on what you do best. The cost of R&D will thus not be duplicated and will be dramatically lower. It will benefit the industry as a whole.
  • concentrate on specific markets and sell the IP for the other ones.
  • open your R&D to other industries and take a look at them too as cross-fertilization could lead to fantastic and awesome ideas.
  • expand your network to exchange ideas and challenge your own ones.
  • use crowdsourcing when you are stuck. Somebody in the world has maybe already encountered such an issue or the wisedom from the crowds could help you.

Companies like AstraZeneca and Eli Lilly have already started their own transformation by opening up to the external world. They are not alone and the transformation is on track…

As a conclusion, I propose you to watch an pretty old but excellent TED Talk on the subject, not dedicated to the pharmaceutical industry. He talks about the role of consumers and end users but also about the fact that creativity is both collaborative and interactive. The pharma industry absolutely needs (an it has already started to do it!) to think out of the box. It has definitely to look toward other industries to learn from them. Another point highlighted by the speaker is the fatal error of looking for incremental innovation instead of striking/disruptive innovation because of the perceived risk. We know that big companies are far more risk averse that smaller ones. Attitude has to change.

Additional resources:

Measuring Open Innovation_Creativity_Innovation_Management_2015 – A brilliant article on how to measure open innovation

Open Innovation in Pharmaceutical Industry: A case study of Eli Lilly – Master of Sciences Thesis by Borja Hernandez Raja & Priyadarsini Sambandan – 2015

Managing innovation in Pharma – PriceWaterhouseCoopers – 2014

Restructuring The Pharma Industry Mizuho 2014 – On page 30, the open innovation model is compared to the traditional model. This report brings to light which company leads the way when it comes to open innovation.

Connecting Knowledge: How big pharmaceutical companies invest in Open Innovation? – Futuribles – 2014

Models for open innovation in the pharmaceutical industry – Drug Discovery Today – 2013

Pharmaceutical Innovation Hits the Wall: How Open Innovation Can Help – Forbes – 2011

JNJ_Open Innovation An Imperative for the Pharma Industry_BIF_Spring_2010 – An excellent presentation by the head of external research at JNJ

Is open innovation the way forward for big pharma? – Nature Reviews Drug Discovery – 2010 (subscription required)

Future of OI – R&D Management – 2010

Pharma 2020: Challenging business models – PriceWaterhouseCoopers – 2009

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The world’s first true “smart drug” enhances cognition and is deemed safe by health experts

Serendipity or “making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things which we were not in quest of” is again one of the best source for innovation in the drug industry.
This is the story of a sleep disorder pill (modafinil or Provigil) that has been deemed the first pure cognitive enhancer.

The dream of the universal flu vaccine might come true – Wired

Researchers found and tested a prototype of a universal flu vaccine. The first results on animals are good.

Scientists worked with a piece of viral protein so it can teach immune systems to fight groups of viruses rather than just a single strain.

As we all know, the real issue with flu comes from its mutations. It explains why the vaccine may not be so protective against seasonal flu as the virus can change.

It is probably the beginning of a new era of hope because flu kills.

Read more: Wired Article

Additional Articles:

Science Mag

WebMD

Financial Times (subscription required)

The Guardian

Bloomberg

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Google Willingness to Help Life Sciences – Wired

Google, or Alphabet, wants biomedical research and life sciences to be more than just side projects.

Several years ago, its efforts under way in that field were probably not considered seriously by the industrial stakeholders like Big Pharma and biotech companies.

Today it is different after several investments commited lately.

Discover more in the Wired article

 

Additional Resources

4 of the biggest healthcare challenges Google is tackling – HealthcareDIVE – August 2015

Here’s why Google Ventures invests so much money in life-science companies – Business Insider – May 2015

Andrew Conrad – Google Life Sciences – The 25 most influential people in biopharma in 2015 – FierceBiotech – May 2015

Google Continues To Build Upon Its Life Sciences Ecosystem – Forbes – September 2014

Meet the Google X Life Sciences Team – WSJ – July 2014

 

 

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