Lodo Therapeutics recently announced that it had reached the second preclinical milestone in its drug discovery collaboration project with Genentech. Though the details of the achievement are yet to be revealed to the wider public, the significance of this project could have wider implications for the rest of the pharmaceutical industry.
Traditional methods of drug discovery have mostly been a lengthy and costly process of trial and error. Lodo’s project makes use of artificial intelligence and machine learning to drive its P4 platform which can increase the speed and efficiency of the drug discovery process by identifying early leads and eradicating compounds that are less promising at an earlier stage. The project is thought to be worth around $1bn, a deal that allows Lodo Therapeutics to receive payments for research, development and commercialisation. Its aim is to harness naturally occurring products from microbial DNA found in soil. This method provides access to a much wider field of potential drugs, that Lodo claim is “the largest source of molecularly diverse, drug-like molecules that has ever been available to researchers.”
Lodo Therapeutics: The Importance of P4
Traditional medicine has been criticised of being too reactive. By contrast, P4 medicine is defined as “predictive, preventive, personalised and participatory”, a term that was first introduced by Dr Leroy Hood of the Institute for Systems Biology. By identifying abnormalities in healthy individuals at an early stage, P4 medicine attempts to treat the issue prior to symptoms developing and therefore increase the likelihood of preventing disease.
The concept of P4 medicine stems from the convergence of three important themes within healthcare.
■ The progression of systems biology in understanding the biological complexity of disease.
■ Vastly improving digital technologies and capabilities for collecting, integrating, storing, analysing and communicating data and information.
■ Consumer interest in personal health management and access to medical information.
The Future for P4
The potential impact of P4 medicine within pharma and healthcare is significant. Early disease detection and treatment will inevitably prevent disease progression. Bespoke treatments can reduce adverse side effects or consequences of medicine that may not be suitable for an individual, whilst also eliminating the need for potentially more severe treatments at a later stage. From a financial standpoint, despite personalised treatments being more costly when compared to conventional methods, they will reduce overall associated costs in the long run by reducing time spent in disease management.
The near-term growth of the precision medicine market is likely to be modest, but this does not undermine its future importance. Driving factors behind its relevance include an ageing population and an increase in cancer incidents worldwide. In the academic world, institutions and experts deem P4 medicine as a critical area for research and development, prompting both government and private investment into P4 initiatives. However, the nature of systems biology and its integration with vast data sets presents a risk regarding the privacy of patient data. The regulatory proceedings that accompany such challenges are a hindrance to the growth of the market.
Lodo’s progress highlights that these are exciting times in health care. With the evolution of P4 medicine, we can anticipate a transition from a reactive to a proactive practice over the next decade. The healthcare and pharmaceutical industries will undergo radical transformations as developing technologies present myriad opportunities. Inevitably there will be challenges, but the backing of companies such as Genentech bodes well for the future of P4 medicine.