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10 Years of Lighting the way

30. October 2018

Past Monday and Tuesday were some very interesting days for INNODIA and members of the Patient Advisory Committee (PAC) since they were invited to attend a scientific symposium in Brussels in order to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the Innovative Medicine Initiative (IMI), the framework under which INNODIA runs and is also partially financed by. The symposium was kicked off with the Executive Director of IMI, Pierre Meulien, who explained that the presentations, panel discussions, and poster sessions all revolved around four main topics: Stratification towards personalized medicine, Patient centric approaches in drug development, Enablers for discovery and development of new drugs, and Collaborating to fight infections. He also stressed the importance of networking with other projects that run under IMI, and to encourage young scientists in their research, two things that are also a priority for INNODIA.

This was the perfect opportunity to present INNODIA to the scientific community and companies as a promising platform that accelerates development of therapeutic devices and products in type 1 diabetes, and we are proud to say that this goal was achieved. Two posters were presented by partners of INNODIA. The first one highlighted the work of the ULB Center for Diabetes Research in the discovery of DPP6 as a new biomarker suitable for human islet in vivo imaging, and was successfully presented by Demine Stéphanie. The second one was submitted by the PAC and focused on bridging the gap between intention and action, and was presented during the poster session by Jeannette Söderberg.

During the panel discussion around patient centric approached in drug development, a member of the PAC, Olivier Arnaud, participated in an interesting discussion with other experts in the field. The general idea among these experts was that patients should be educated and asked to participate as advocate for research. Expert patients change the landscape of research and generate new knowledge, an additional perspective that is of immense value to the scientific community. They should help in the design of clinical trials, and also help the general public to understand what the value of a new medicinal product is. To conclude: research should not only work for patients, but also with patients, and this should be done by clearly communicating with these participants. The INNODIA consortium cannot agree more with this and is very happy with the movement towards active patient participation in research, because we have seen the benefit of involving patients via the PAC.

After two very intense days of networking and listening to some interesting presentations, the icing on the cake came just before the closing of this symposium. The PAC had entered three communication products into a competition for the election of the “Best Communication Product in IMI projects”, and INNODIA won 2nd place! The binder based on the Delta character that can be used by nurses and other medical staff to interact with children enrolled in the study, was rightfully acknowledged by IMI as truly innovative and helpful for the interaction with these young participants. PAC member Nathalie Istas, one of the people who worked very hard on this binder, was given the award by Michel Goldman, the former Executive Director of IMI, who also led the scientific review and selection committee.

It can be concluded that these were two very intense and interesting days, where the focus was put on truly understanding a disease to generate successful results, interacting with different players in the field without competitiveness, and having a patient-centered approach of doing research!