Traditionally pharma has been focused on developing small molecules and chemicals. Here, David Ferrick gives his view on immunology and cell therapy as a rapidly emerging pillar of science and therapeutics
Cell analysis is emerging as a foundational science of the future. Traditionally pharma has been focused on developing small molecules and chemicals, the transition means we are moving towards biologics as more ‘native’ therapeutic entities. The explosion around cell therapy - using the cell to fight disease – means scientists now need access to tools and technologies that measure living cells and their products to find out what's happening in and around the cell.
We have gone from 20 - 30 Investigational New Drugs (IND’s) entering clinical trials, to 800 this year. That’s around a 30-fold increase. Soon, cell and gene therapy will surpass antibodies in clinical trials.
When considering the future of this emerging field, we are seeing a foundational shift from targeting the symptomatic pathologies of disease to the immune cellular network that resolves and prevents disease.
Immunology and cell therapy are considered key pillars in therapeutics. They are also a driving force behind the evolution of cell analysis tools and technologies developed to model the integrated, real-time activities that occur within a living cell. These tools are also essential for immunotherapy and disease research.
There have been three mega-trends, from which immuno-oncology is currently the biggest benefactor:
Immune system targeting
Cell engineering with unprecedented fidelity capable of dialling up the right phenotype
Successful control over the microenvironment
All these trends have dramatically altered how we progress drug discovery in this new era.
Immuno-oncology leverages the context of the immune component, instead of targeting individual molecular events that sometimes leave the biology behind. To address these new challenges, we developed a portfolio of cell analysis solutions that provide researchers with the ability to better model, dynamically track, and test tumour microenvironments.
When considering the future of this emerging field, we are seeing a foundational shift from targeting the symptomatic pathologies of disease to the immune cellular network that resolves and prevents disease. This shift, to try to understand the immune cellular network, is especially relevant for age-related diseases where removing the pathological process is not enough. The body needs to be put back into homeostasis with ongoing protective immunosurveillance to cure and prevent recurrence of disease.
Author: David Ferrick is Associate Vice President, Cell Analysis at Agilent Technologies: agilent.com