Roche looks beyond clinical trial data to ‘transform oncology’

By Flora Southey contact

- Last updated on GMT

(Image: Getty/iLexx)
(Image: Getty/iLexx)

Related tags: Patient centricity, Roche, Data

Deep, rich, and high quality data sets can help inform patients and enrich the industry’s understanding of cancer, says Roche executive.

Cancer patients often have a low level of understanding when it comes to their disease, Roche Partnering associate director of digital and personalised healthcare, Richa Wilson, told delegates at Nordic Life Science Days.

However, according to Wilson, electronic medical record (EMR) data, digital pathology, and genomic profiling can help increase this understanding, and “transform oncology” ​from a patient, physician, and pharmaceutical perspective.

Roche announced plans to acquire​ genomic profiling testing company Foundation Medicine for $2.4bn (€2bn) on June 19 this year. The merger aims to enhance the Swiss pharmaceutical company’s development of personalised medicines and care for patients with cancer.

“Our focus…in terms of transforming oncology is to look at these deep and rich data sets, these new and diverse sources, to enrich our understanding of disease,” ​continued Wilson last week in Stockholm, Sweden.

Real world data

Wilson also highlighted the importance of engaging with “meaningful data at scale”​ to gain a better understanding of the disease.

Industry needs to look beyond clinical trial data, she urged: “Right now, we have data from clinical trials and we have snapshots from when the patient actually uses the drug. We have nothing in between.

“So what we’re talking about is completing the information in that whole period, to get a better understanding of the disease, that then informs at a personal level. That is how we’re approaching it.”

Why now?

According to Wilson, new and alternative data sources, combined with cost-effective computer power, has led to “a perfect storm” ​in data analysis.

In addition, there is a real interest in patients wanting to take control of their own disease, she told delegates. “This is happening more and more if you look around,” ​she added, referencing the at-home genetic testing firm 23andMe.

According to Wilson, a high percentage of 23andMe patients consent to their data being used for research purposes, and in fact, earlier this year, the firm signed a database sharing agreement with pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline.

“The patient-centric part is really important to us,” ​said Wilson.

“What patients need next is to be more integrated into the healthcare ecosystem, which includes the physicians and the peers and the providers and even the pharma companies – the people that are actually making the drug.” 

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