Each year, we designate the last day in February as Rare Disease Day to raise awareness about the potential impact we can make for this important segment of the world’s population. From policy makers to researchers to health authorities, we all play a part in making a difference for more than an estimated 300 million people in the world suffering from a rare disease.
To mark the event, I would like to reflect on my role to move the needle and make a difference to patients that are awaiting life-changing treatment. My journey started as a clinician where I had the privilege in caring for patients with a variety of rare diseases. At a personal level, I am also the aunt of a very special boy who suffered for 8 years with a rare cardiopulmonary disease. To me, rare diseases are not so rare. Continue reading
When a patient reads the label on their medicine bottle, he or she naturally relies on the medicine to contain the correct drug, be safe, work as intended and list the correct dosage. The pharmaceutical companies that produce these medicines similarly must rely on their internal manufacturing processes and quality control testing to generate the medicine responsible for this patient trust.
For the development of biologic medicines, the process of generating a quality product is less straightforward than that of a small-molecule medicine, like pain relievers such as aspirin. Selecting the right partner, such as Covance and its ‘Central GMP Testing Laboratory’ model, can smooth the path to validation and consistent manufacturing quality for your biologic. Continue reading
Most sponsors are well aware of the recent revision (R2) of ICH GCP E6, which outlines recommendations to unify standards across the EU, Japan and the U.S. with defined requirements for sponsors regarding the role of monitoring and risk management, there are many factors to consider for a successful implementation.
This article discusses a variety of challenges sponsors may face when preparing to address these recommendations and also examines opportunities to drive greater efficiencies in today’s complex trial ecosystem.
Addressing varying levels of adoption
According to the latest revision, sponsors are tasked with a requirement to employ an adaptable quality management system and are expected to maintain oversight of CROs. But with various tracking systems, vendor logs, CTMS and monitoring platforms, seeing the complete picture can be an overwhelming, error-prone effort. Continue reading
Sven, Senior Study Director, Toxicology at Covance, discovered his team’s work had unpredictably reached his home – and impacted his family’s life.
In January 2016, Sven’s 3-year-old daughter was complaining about pain in her legs. At first, it seemed like natural growing pains, but it then became difficult for her to walk in the mornings. An ultrasound with an orthopedic doctor revealed a high level of swelling in her knees and she received a diagnosis of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis – a disorder where the body’s immune system attacks its own cells and tissues. Continue reading
“Affinity” is defined as, “a spontaneous or natural liking or sympathy for someone or or something.” This concept applies also to the biologics (large molecules) we help to develop. Drugs like monoclonal antibodies (mAb) or bispecific antibodies are ideal drug candidates since they have very high affinity to bind to their target substance or site. Given the variability of the targets, safety profiles, and therapeutic windows, it is important to understand the characteristics of the affinity of the target and how to translate phenomena such as target mediated drug disposition (TMDD). Continue reading
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the accumulation of fat or lipids in the liver in the absence of significant alcohol uptake or viral infection. Within NAFLD there is a spectrum of disease ranging from excess storage of fat in the liver (NAFL) to fat plus inflammation (called nonalcoholic steatohepatitis or NASH), to liver fibrosis and cirrhosis, or end stage liver disease with loss of liver function. NASH is the most common cause of liver disease in developed countries, largely due to the increased prevalence of obesity and type 2 diabetes. A percentage of patients with NASH and liver fibrosis will progress to liver failure or hepatocellular carcinoma or liver cancer. In fact, NASH is expected to be the number one cause for liver transplantation in a few years, making it critical to identify high-risk patients early. Continue reading
Facing ever-increasing costs of running a clinical trial, sponsors must ensure they are properly directing their budget and resolving the areas of highest risk while maintaining patient safety and data integrity.
How can sponsors implement a robust process to allow earlier identification of emerging risks during the course of a trial? This article covers five tips for defining risk levels, categorizing risk and maintaining oversight to ensure that risks and responses are appropriately identified, documented, tracked and managed throughout the life cycle of a study. Continue reading
Identifying viable study sites presents a challenge in many clinical trials. Biosimilar development is especially challenging as the number of sponsors preparing to broaden access to today’s blockbuster biologics, by providing lower-cost biosimilar alternative, continues to grow. While this flood of research activity will make a significant improvement for patient access to breakthrough treatments, it has also created an increasingly competitive environment for finding suitable, experienced sites.
Compounding the issue, physicians are often less interested in supporting biosimilar studies, preferring to engage in clinical trials involving novel targets and compounds or those being conducted by larger academic institutions. Additionally, the level of education and training regarding the established development process for biosimilars is generally low. To overcome these hurdles, Covance has expanded its strategy to help sponsors find qualified sites and investigators willing to provide reliable clinical evidence. Continue reading
The rise of immunotherapy has been meteoric — there are now well more than 1,000 immuno-oncology (IO) trials ongoing according to clinicaltrials.gov. Finding and enrolling the appropriate patients for these potentially revolutionary treatments has presented a profound challenge, one that was recently covered in the aptly titled New York Times article: A Cancer Conundrum: Too Many Drug Trials, Too Few Patients. Another piece of the puzzle is clinical trial design, which can be especially elaborate when testing combination treatments in IO. Exacerbating these issues, IO trials are an increasingly competitive race to market. There is great value assigned to reducing development times and being the first drug approved within a class or for a specific indication.
This blog article discusses the current state of immuno-oncology studies, strategies for enhancing patient recruitment, the role of companion diagnostics and solutions for dealing with the complexity of IO combination studies. Continue reading
The year I graduated from college was the same year an old family friend was retiring. He had spent the majority of his career designing and deploying farm equipment across the United States. When I asked for advice as I entered the workforce he told me a story.
Three months into retirement, a company in California asked him to fly out and consult with their mechanics on why a piece of equipment wasn’t working. He flew out, spent 5 minutes at the company’s site, drew an “X” in chalk on the equipment, and flew home. They called the next day and asked what they needed to do. He directed them to the “X”. As simple as an “X” is, it represented years of experience and understanding of the intricacies of the machine and what could potentially go wrong.
He said the moral of the story was, “It’s good to know where to put the X”. Continue reading