Biotech and pharma futures – our mentors’ prognoses
Biotech and pharma form one of the world’s largest industries, yet it is still relatively new with great potential for driving medical progress through pioneering advances in research and innovation.
Future Worlds Medicine supports the groundbreaking research taking place at the University of Southampton and as our students, researchers and scientists continue to develop medicines and devices that tackle unmet needs, we ask our industry mentors for their predictions for the future of this industry. Watch the video above or read below to unearth their predictions.
Annie Jullien Pannelay
Annie works as a consultant for The Economist Intelligence Unit’s global healthcare practice, overseeing a team of specialists delivering research and consulting to pharma and medtech companies, governments, NGOs and foundations. Click here for her Future Worlds mentor profile.
Research and financing in immunology has been dominant in the healthcare sector in recent years, which Annie believes has revolutionised the market. “There has been so much investment in oncology – the study and treatment of tumours – and we can see some really positive outcomes in terms of Immuno-Oncology and curing cancer in a way that was not seen before,” she says.
She believes that there will be a big industry focus on brain diseases. “So much effort has been put into cracking Alzheimer’s,” she explains. “There are not many things that hard work cannot fix, and Alzheimer’s will be fixed eventually.”
David is a health economist and Managing Director of Triangulate Health Ltd, where he leads consulting projects that interface between life sciences, economics and policy for multilateral organisations, NGOs and private sector companies. Click here for his Future Worlds mentor profile.
David predicts that there will be an emphasis on thinking about cures instead of therapeutics. “What we’re seeing with gene editing and some of the opportunities surrounding cell therapies is that you can offer a functional cure instead of having to have a lifelong treatment,” he explains.
He believes that understanding the constraints of the health system and knowing how to work around this will be essential. “The biggest winners will be the companies that can actually provide sustainable value to the sector and don’t just tinker with pricing to maximise profit,” he says.
Simon is a business expert who has managed a number of early stage life science companies, helping them to grow and achieve success. He is Operating Partner at Advent Life Sciences LLP and Executive Chairman for two portfolio companies. Click here for his Future Worlds mentor profile.
The crossover between healthcare and technology is an ever-expanding area in the industry and Simon has been a witness to the excitement surrounding this. “People are talking about nanomedicines,” he says.
“One good thing about our industry is that you know when things are getting exciting because investors start putting a lot of money into them,” Simon explains. “In the last few years it has been cancer immunotherapy, in the next few years it will probably be cancer metabolomics – there is a lot going on.”
Jim co-founded Primerdesign in 2005 from within the University of Southampton’s Faculty of Medicine. After the successful sale of the company, he now works as Strategic Director and oversees the development of the business. Click here for his Future Worlds mentor profile.
Jim believes that the industry is becoming much more personalised and more miniaturised. “The internet is a big part of all of that,” he says. “A massive amount of data is being generated, for instance in The Human Genome Project, the ability to sequence someone’s DNA is a technology that is rapidly emerging in our industry and it carries a huge amount of information and data, so the ability to handle large amounts of data is becoming critical.”
Cloud storage is being used by a number of healthcare organisations as a way to effectively store and manage data. Jim predicts that this will be of great significance in the industry. “Just knowing what to do with the information we’re gathering is becoming a real challenge,” he says.
Nick works as an independent consultant, supporting pharma, CROs, biotech, startups, charities and academia across Europe, the US and Asia. As a group leader at Eli Lilly, he drove the diversification of the UK Chemistry Group. Check back soon for Nick’s Future Worlds mentor profile.
There is currently a significant focus on technology in the health sector and Nick’s prediction echoes this. “The next big thing in drug discovery will probably be Artificial Intelligence (AI),” he says.
Nick believes that doors are opening up for great opportunities, not just in finding new biological targets that connect with human disease, but also in chemistry. “There’s huge potential for us to make clinical compounds more efficiently and that’s an area I’m very interested in,” he adds.
Simon provides support services to young scientific companies and organisations. Experienced in drug discovery, innovation, business development and collaborative alliance management; he helps companies find new partners and clients. Click here for his Future Worlds mentor profile.
Simon expects that the way we engage with patients and how they are able to diagnose themselves will change enormously. “The treatments that are coming are coming through faster and will make a bigger impact on a smaller group of patients,” he explains.
Stratified medicine is the identification of subgroups of patients with distinct mechanisms of disease, allowing for the identification and development of treatments that are effective for particular groups of patients, meaning that the right people get the right treatment at the right time. Simon believes this will play a really important role. “The use of AI, new diagnostics and stratifying patients will make a huge difference to how we look after patients and there will be great new opportunities for that,” he says. “I think it’s a great time to be involved in biotech.”
Find out more about mentors in the Future Worlds Medicine initiative through the Mentors section.