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Published on Thursday, April 11, 2019

Moderated discussion: “Advancing the innovation ecosystem: Working together for patients,” in Washington, DC

Moderated discussion: “Advancing the innovation ecosystem: Working together for patients,” in Washington, DC

On April 3, 2019, Francis Collins, MD, PhD, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Mikael Dolsten, MD, PhD, chief scientific officer and president, Worldwide Research, Development and Medical, Pfizer, joined in a discussion led by Susan Dentzer, visiting fellow at the Robert J. Margolis Center for Health Policy, Duke University, in Washington DC.

Photo: Francis Collins, MD, PhD, director of the NIH (left) and author Alejandro Hernandez, editorial manager of the Alpha-1 Foundation (right)

For 60 minutes, Collins, Dolsten, and Dentzer engaged in a conversation with the theme of: “Advancing the innovation ecosystem: working together for patients,” where they emphasized the need for continued collaboration between the private and public sectors, along with the patient community, in order to advance new and emerging technologies and innovative approaches for potentially life-saving treatments and new outcomes in medicine.

“We are currently living in remarkable times with amazing things happening in areas such as cancer immuno-therapy, gene therapy, and gene editing. The things that are happening right now, I had no idea they would even be possible just five or six years ago,” expressed Collins when asked about the current position “the ecosystem,” as they described the collaboration between the private and public sectors with small biotech companies; an ecosystem with symbiotic characteristics where all contributors play an important role in a tremendous team effort, in medical research.

Collins and Dolsten agreed on the importance of advocacy groups and organizations as well as the patient community, in being part of the process for better outcomes and the ability to bring new and potential treatments for various conditions to the clinic, including rare diseases, such as Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency (Alpha-1). 

“We need you, the patient community, you are the reason we have gotten this far,” said Collins.

“One of the most important resources needed for this ecosystem to strive is you, the patient. We need to line-up our resources and keep the ecosystem going, including the patient community. There is no one better to bring together what others (physicians) can do than patients: you inspire all of us,” expressed Dolsten.

The Alpha-1 Foundation applauds and supports these types of initiatives, in which patients become partners and are of vital importance for therapeutic development. 

The panel also mentioned that it is critical to spread awareness and education in the medical community, and being able to have early diagnosis and detection, while mentioning the Accelerating Medicines Partnership (AMP), a public-private partnership between the NIH, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), multiple biopharmaceutical, and life science companies, as well as non-profit organizations to transform the current model for developing new diagnostics and treatments by jointly identifying and validating promising biological targets for therapeutics.

The ultimate goal of AMP is to increase the number of new diagnostics and therapies for patients and reduce the time and cost of developing them.

“Patient participation is critical for AMP, especially to remind us what we are doing and why-and-who we are doing it for,” said Collins, who also mentioned the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH) as being instrumental in bringing together funds and resources from both the private and public sectors, to work in mutual collaboration in research projects that will ultimately benefit the patient community.

The Alpha-1 Foundation applauds these types of initiatives that support research and bring innovative approaches to the table for the benefit of the patient community, as we are committed to finding a cure for Alpha-1 and improving the lives of Alphas, and those affected by the condition, worldwide.

For more information, please visit the Collaboration Ecosystem website and the AMP website.


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