A world without disease: Janssen – Flanders.bio partner day 2018

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A new vision was in the spotlight at the Flanders.bio – Janssen Pharmaceutica Partner Day this year. “A world without disease” was the slogan on everyone’s tongues as Janssen’s representatives and partners presented inspiring success stories, demonstrating the feasibility of their vision. The day was a huge success, inspiring everyone in attendance. Held Thursday the 1st of March, audience members described the event as an “excellent program” with a “very good atmosphere”.

The event had a clear direction towards disease prevention and interception, supported by data and good balanced science.” – Tom Aelbrecht, Head of Janssen Campus Office

In the historic Leuven brewery “De Hoorn”, amidst old copper boilers and twisting pipes, the 2018 Flanders.bio – Janssen Pharmaceutica Partner day was hosted in style. Janssen R&D leaders and innovation ambassadors met with researchers and business owners alike to work on collaborations between academia and industry. The event, moderated by Annelies Michiels, was fully booked and attended by about 150 people, hoping to set up sustainable collaborations and partnerships between academia and pharma.

An opening address was followed by a fascinating keynote talk supporting Janssen’s vision of a “world without diseases”. Prof Lars Klareskog, from the prestigious Karolinska Intitute, came all the way from Sweden to give his presentation. The world-renowned rheumatologist, showed his support for Janssen’s ambitious aim to focus not just on treatment, but also on prevention and interception of diseases. In his talk, Klareskog presented an in depth example of rheumatoid arthritis, and how knowledge of its gradual development has led to new treatment options for the chronic disease.

This research provides a perfect case for Janssen’s wish to move from classic treatment options, where a person isn’t diagnosed and treated until they are already diseased and experiencing symptoms, to a more modern approach. Klareskog’s first-rate research proves that it can be done, and Janssen’s vision and drive are making it happen. This new approach involves stopping diseases before they have a chance to fully develop, either by intercepting them at the incubation phase or by preventing them altogether. The aim is to prevent diseases before they have a chance of taking hold, countering pain and suffering before it has even happened.

At Janssen, we envision a world without disease. Our goal is to use the best internal and external science to transform how diseases are prevented, intercepted, treated, and cured.” – Mathai Mammen, Global Head of Janssen Research and Development

The morning session continued with several interesting presentations from Patrick Chaltin (CD3), Tim Perera (Octimet) and Yvan Saeys (VIB-UGent), all addressing their individual experiences with the collaboration between academia, biotech and pharma. There was then a brief introduction, presented by Janssen’s R&D leaders, into the latest insights in the company’s six therapeutic and functional areas: oncology, neuroscience, infectious diseases, immunosciences, discovery sciences and diagnostics. After lunch, the leader for each of these six areas, Tine Casneuf, Hilde Lavreysen, Walter Van den Broek, Anish Suri, Pieter Peeters and Daap Kooij, each hosted an interactive workshop to discuss topics including collaboration, strategies and future plans.

After some lively and productive conversations, everyone returned to the main room for the second half of the day. The afternoon began with the “enabling collaborations” session, where Jan Van Der Goten, Kim Cryns, Debbie Dumont and Kara Bortone presented their perspectives. The key message was that it takes innovation, funds and exemplary research to fuel sustainable collaborations with Janssen, as well as open communication about what all party members will be gaining from the partnership. After these talks we had the second keynote: an insight into systems immunology, by Adrian Liston from VIB-KU Leuven. As with Klareskog’s research into RA, Liston’s work lends credence to the achievability of Janssen’s vision. Liston’s lab has used applied immunologic profiling immunology to identify several diseases where early stage genetic factors exist that may be used to create targeted preventative or interceptive treatments.

Finally, the outcome of the workshop sessions was summed up in a Q&A panel at the end of the day, led by Ann Van Gysel of Turnstone Communications. Pieter Peeters made the remark that academics still don’t always know how to get in touch with Janssen, and the panel agreed that this is a shame and should be improved. Collaboration between academics and pharmaceutical companies is vital if we are to achieve the ambitious vision of a “world without disease”.

We learned a lot. We really showed the strength of our company, our open mindset and our willingness to collaborate, all supporting our ambition of a world without diseases.” – Jan Van der Goten, Head of Alliance Management Strategic Partnerships