Creating hope for all facing illness
Feb. 1, 2023 / TEXT BY YUYA OYAMADA / ILLUSTRAIONS BY SHINJI HAMANA
※ Article updated on Jun. 7, 2021
- The Mitsubishi Chemical Group(the MCG Group) aims to realize “Sustainable Well-being.” Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corporation, which plays a central role in the healthcare business, is tackling the development of Precision Medicine.
Precision Medicine is medicine that aims to establish prevention and treatment methods by taking into account people’s genes, environment and different lifestyles. In January 2015, in his State of the Union address, then President Obama announced the Precision Medicine initiative. This is how the world came to learn about Precision Medicine. Developments in Precision Medicine in recent years include making more advanced gene analysis possible, and advances in digital technology for collecting and analyzing large data related to healthcare.
Precision Medicine is similar to the concept of personalized medicine in which medicine is optimized and tailor-made for each individual patient. However, in Precision Medicine, the target is not a specific individual but is a patient group for a specific disease. Based on data analysis information, by dividing patients into groups and establishing a treatment and prevention method for that group, it is possible to provide optimal medical care that considers the benefits for the patient.
Precision Medicine is believed to offer various benefits. In conventional medical care, in the case of a patient with a diverse pathology and symptoms, it was necessary to administer several drugs before finding a drug that suits the patient, during which time the patient was unlikely to gain benefits from the drugs taken. Meanwhile, in Precision Medicine, it is possible to administer drugs to an optimal patient group by specifying beforehand the patient group that will show a high drug efficacy. In other words, this means the patients receive the treatment best suited for them from the beginning, including selecting drugs that are expected to be beneficial and have few side effects. This will in turn contribute to an improvement in the level of patient satisfaction. In addition, Precision Medicine is expected to realize more efficient and effective medical care and contribute to a reduction in medical costs in society overall.
At Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corporation, Precision Medicine is defined as "providing the appropriate medical care to the appropriate patients at the appropriate timing." The company is undertaking the development of Precision Medicine from various approaches, including diseases, stage of symptoms, drug administration methods and timing. At present, one disease for which R&D is moving forward is erythropoietic protoporphyria. A genetic disease, this incurable disease causes skin inflammation due to exposure to sunlight and even impacts the organs. The difficulty of this disease is that the onset of this disease is impacted by a number of elements, including the patient’s skin color and melanin levels. In light of this, there are concerns the benefits of this treatment will vary by patient. Accordingly, as a measure in Precision Medicine, a clinical trial is being conducted where an optimal dosage can be selected for each patient based on a stratified analysis that uses biomarkers, including skin color and protoporphyrin concentration levels. In this way, dosage can be selected and medical care is moving away from standardized treatments for specific diseases, eg. take this drug three times a day if you have these symptoms, to optimal treatments for each patient.
Going forward, Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corporation will focus on Precision Medicine in the fields of the central nervous system diseases and immune inflammatory disorders. In this field, there are still many unmet medical needs (medical needs for patients that still have not found an effective treatment). We need to think of how to approach various symptoms starting from the patient. We plan to use the drug discovery technologies cultivated by Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma to quickly identify the gene responsible for a disorder based on the collection and analysis of genomes/genes, and tackle a phenotype drug discovery approach to control a disease by taking a patient’s symptoms, specimens and other information as a phenotype. To realize Precision Medicine, we are conducting drug discovery for incurable diseases, including ALS, systemic scleroderma and systemic lupus erythematosus by not only using the MCG Group technologies and personnel but are also actively collaborating with universities, research institutes, and venture companies.
In addition, by moving forward with research on these types of incurable diseases, it is expected we will see synergistic benefits throughout the group. By conducting more in-depth R&D for Precision Medicine, we will not only find treatments for disease but also discover applications in various other fields, including food.
The medical frontlines are already expanding from hospitals to patient’s homes. Accordingly, a point of focus is not just treatment of a disease but how medicine contribute to realizing a happy home life for both the patient and their family. We aim to contribute to healthcare that is cohesive with daily life by delivering promising options to patients, their families, medical practitioners and all people facing illness. This is the healthcare business the MCG Group aims for and Precision Medicine is one key solution.