We envision a future where the term “patient” becomes a thing of the past, because intervening and stopping disease from progressing in healthy individuals is the new normal. Today’s advancements in science, technology and digital health have opened up a new era for our industry, and we believe what lies ahead for the healthcare ecosystem is truly transformational.
The Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson established the Disease Interception Accelerator (DIA) earlier this year, an innovation platform where the focus is to lead a paradigm shift from the diagnosis and treatment of disease to one of prediction and pre-emption. We began in type 1 diabetes (T1D) and have since initiated additional venture teams in such areas as presbyopia/cataracts, perinatal depression and, most recently, oral cavity/oropharyngeal cancer. All have a deep scientific focus with the end goal of delivering personalized Disease Interception solutions that may take a variety of forms: medicines, diagnostics, devices, and technologies.
A scientific foundation for change
Recently, in a groundbreaking position paper published in the October issue of Diabetes Care, the JDRF, the Endocrine Society and the American Diabetes Association (ADA) together laid out a staging system for T1D that supports the foundation of a T1D Disease Interception strategy. Namely that the disease begins years before clinically observable symptoms, that the ongoing disease process can be detected by the presence of islet autoantibodies and that the time to intervene in the process is early, before the disease results in lifelong insulin dependence. It is a powerful statement for a condition that exacts an enormous toll on people, caregivers and the healthcare system. We can no longer wait for disease to manifest clinically; there is a period of time to intervene and we must identify that window and move science forward based upon such sound principles.
Collaboration drives success
We recognize collaboration is essential in advancing Disease Interception, the success of which will result in improved health and wellness for people around the world. Therefore, we are focused on cultivating external partnerships that will complement and propel Disease Interception strategies. We are sharing in the scientific resources and intellectual power of leading research organizations, such as JDRF and Washington University School of Medicine, to intercept T1D, with more efforts planned in the future.
Across each of our ventures, we are looking to support entrepreneurial, non-traditional, academic, pharmaceutical and biotech approaches. One recent example is the work underway with UbiVac, a privately-held immune-oncology company, to research a potential interception approach for oral cavity/oropharyngeal cancer, one of the most prevalent cancers globally according to the World Health Organization.
Further, the DIA is engaging future leaders through internal and external programs like the Square One Challenge at the Hult International Business School, which asks participants to envision the impact of Disease Interception on future healthcare models. We are also extending our reach globally to seek innovative research approaches through a Disease Interception Grant Call in collaboration with the Agency for Science Technology and Research (A*STAR) in Singapore.
Evolving healthcare and changing behavior
We recognize a paradigm shift to Disease Interception will not just be a scientific and medical feat, but will require the global community to “think DIfferently” about how we approach healthcare. As Disease Interception solutions become an integral part of the healthcare continuum, consumers, healthcare professionals, payers and healthcare systems will see their roles evolve dramatically. In this regard, the DIA has enlisted Behavioral Science Lead, Kevin Wildenhaus, Ph.D., to assist in this evolution of thinking. In this video, Kevin outlines our approach to educate and inspire people to “think Differently” about health care.
Imagine the possibilities…Disease Interception will create an entirely new paradigm, one that finally moves us from disease care to health care. We look forward to keeping you updated on this journey and welcome your insights and thoughts here by sharing a comment.
As Global Head of the Disease Interception Accelerator (DIA), Ben Wiegand is responsible for developing and implementing strategies for this autonomous incubator-like group that seeks to identify the root causes of disease and enable the development of interventions that stop the progression to disease. The DIA works to understand disease susceptibility, risk assessment and tackle the origins of disease, such as genetic predisposition, environmental exposure and phenotypic alterations. Ben holds a B.S. degree in Chemistry from the University of Illinois, and both a M.A. and Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from Harvard University.