Paul-Peter Tak, co-founder of a cancer tech startup, shares his Expert View on innovation in development and the advantages of experimental medicine.
Thomas Edison’s Innovative Legacy
Just over 140 years ago, Thomas Edison’s industrial-sized research and development laboratory opened, marking a pivotal moment in history. Paul-Peter Tak draws inspiration from Edison’s innovative process, emphasizing the value of persistence and learning from failures.
The Parallel of Pharma R&D
In the realm of pharmaceutical research and development (R&D), the journey often involves setbacks and failures. Tak reflects on the importance of these missteps, paralleling them to Edison’s approach, and poses a critical question: Can we identify unsuccessful treatments earlier in the process?
Experimental Medicine: A Disruptive Approach
Tak introduces ‘experimental medicine’ as a transformative approach to clinical development. This disruptive method aims to expedite decision-making timelines by focusing on smaller, high-density data clinical trials.
Within experimental medicine, Tak outlines three crucial questions for assessing the potential success of a program. These questions revolve around clinical improvement trends, pathway alignment, and changes in biomarkers associated with relevant clinical success.
The current pharmaceutical development model is critiqued by Tak as slow, expensive, and unsustainable. He advocates for the implementation of approaches with a higher probability of success, allowing scientists to accelerate or discontinue with maximum efficiency.
The Therapeutic Revolution: Lessons from History
Reflecting on the transformative impact of anti-TNF antibodies in treating rheumatoid arthritis, Tak emphasizes the need to observe a small number of patients to test the effectiveness of medicines.
Speed, knowledge, and innovation form the core of experimental medicine. Tak explains how this approach provides deeper insights into optimal doses, effects in target tissues, and biomarkers of response.
Tak discusses strategies within experimental medicine to reduce attrition, including better target identification and validation. The focus is on high-quality molecules and disruptive innovation to increase the probability of success.
Embracing Disruptive Innovation
While disruptive innovation is crucial, Tak acknowledges the challenges of embedding it into a corporate culture. He emphasizes the need for smart, empowered leadership, patience, and training programs to facilitate group learning and collaboration.
Drawing parallels to Edison’s perspective, Tak concludes that what is initially controversial in R&D soon becomes the norm. Experimental medicine, with its disruptive philosophy, embodies the process of embracing change and achieving success in the pharmaceutical industry.