Novartis has a long-established track record of leadership in pharmaceutical research. We also leverage this core R&D competence across our other divisions, sharing research findings and knowledge throughout our organization.
Our global pharmaceutical research organization, the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research (NIBR), is committed to discovering innovative medicines that treat disease and improve human health. Our research is driven by a distinctive clinical and scientific strategy focusing on unmet medical need and knowledge of disease.
NIBR carries out research across a wide range of disease areas including:
- Autoimmunity, transplantation & inflammatory disease
- Cardiovascular and metabolic diseases
- Gastrointestinal disease
- Infectious disease
- Musculoskeletal diseases
- Respiratory diseases
By focusing on the patient and following the science, Novartis has discovered innovative treatments for disorders ranging from cancer to degenerative disease. Knowledge is also effectively applied across diseases with similar mechanisms due to the mapping of molecular signaling pathways inside of cells and the use of proof-of-concept studies (where compounds are quickly tested in small, well-defined patient populations).
NIBR works closely with the development function in order to achieve the best results for patients in the fastest time possible.
Biomarkers: the promise of customized therapies
Patients diagnosed with the same disease can show marked differences in individual response to treatment: some may clearly benefit from treatment while others may have no response or may experience adverse reaction.
To identify the basis for these different responses, Novartis has an extensive program of biomarker discovery to:
- Pinpoint patients suitable for a given therapy
- Verify initial response
- Monitor subsequent therapy and possible disease progression
Identification of potential biomarkers is a mandatory part of proposals for all new drug targets at Novartis.
Biomarkers are measurable biological factors, such as gene activity, proteins or chemical compounds that can act as indicators for how a disease or therapy is progressing. For instance, the abnormal Bcr-Abl protein can act as a biomarker for chronic myeloid leukemia, a cancer of the blood and bone marrow. Increasingly sophisticated biochemical or genetic markers are under development - from amyloid deposition in the case of Alzheimer's disease or prostate-specific antigen, a risk factor for prostate cancer - and used to diagnose and track progression of a disease.
In the area of drug toxicity, major research initiatives are underway at Novartis to understand the molecular mechanisms causing adverse drug reactions and, ultimately, to find biomarkers that identify people at risk. This research builds on recent advances in multiple scientific disciplines such as bioinformatics, genomics, imaging technologies and materials science.