We aim to ensure that the right patient is treated with the right dose of the right medicine at the right time. We believe that treatments should become targeted and based on an understanding of a patient’s unique genetic make up and individual response to a medicine.
Traditionally, medicines have been developed with a ‘one-size-fits-all’ model. Approximately half of all patients who take medicines do not respond to them, indicating that there is critical need for a more targeted approach to drug discovery and development.
Advances in biology and computer science are enabling unprecedented analysis of human genes and proteins. These advances help identify patients that may respond positively to particular therapies with new diagnostic tools.
We expect that, in the future, customized therapies and companion diagnostics will help physicians select medicines that have the greatest efficacy and the lowest probability of harmful side effects for individual patients.
Advancing customized therapies at Novartis
Our goal is to optimize patient outcomes by delivering targeted treatments.
By beginning to genetically identify patients who will respond positively to particular therapies, we are starting to tackle two of the greatest challenges in developing drugs: identifying a disease area with a critical, unmet need and assigning studies to test a clinical hypothesis.
Teams across Novartis work together to develop customized therapies for patients.
Biomarkers: The promise of customized therapies
Patients diagnosed with the same disease can show marked differences in individual response to a therapy: some may clearly benefit from treatment, while others may have no response or may experience adverse reactions.
To identify the basis for these different responses, Novartis has an extensive program of biomarker discovery to:
Pinpoint a therapy suitable for an individual patient
Verify initial response
Monitor subsequent therapy response and disease progression
At the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research (NIBR), our primary research organization, identification of biomarkers is a mandatory part of proposals for all new drug targets.
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 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.