Advances in biology, information, and digital technologies are changing the concept of disease by elucidating the changes that occur in the healthy body before the onset of disease. In the midst of these changes, in order to correctly understand disease conditions and create treatments, it is important to view disease as a continuum (Disease Continuum) rather than just understanding the onset and progression of the disease, and to deeply understand the biological changes within the body (Human Biology), such as genome information, cellular mechanisms, and pathophysiology, that are linked to the root causes. Therefore, from July 2022, we have reformed our R&D organization to Deep Human Biology Learning (DHBL) with the intention of shifting to a drug discovery approach based on Human Biology, starting from our own unique clinical data.
Message from Chief Scientific Officer (Dr. Takashi Owa, Senior Vice President)
We considered that traditional drug discovery methods are not based on the patient's disease state, and changed our strategy. We wanted to study many of the different diseases that people might develop. Therefore, we revamped our research approach, believing that seemingly different diseases occur in a common mode. For example, breakdown of protein regulation can lead to a variety of medical problems, including dementia and cancer. We call this drug discovery system Deep Human Biology Learning (DHBL). The boundaries between the areas of neurology and oncology, which were previously separate research groups, were broken down to encourage communication and collaboration among scientists with diverse backgrounds and expertise. This has created an environment conducive to the generation of novel ideas and the creation of innovative treatments. Under DHBL, we will create new innovations and contribute to relieving patients’ anxiety over health.
Overview of DHBL
DHBL drug discovery and development consists of five drug discovery research “Domains”, five “Functions” supporting drug discovery research (foundation, the three functions, and fulfillment), and the DHBL office (Figure 1). Domains are responsible for leading drug discovery projects from formulation of drug discovery hypotheses to regulatory approval. These “Domains” are not based on a disease domain axis, but on a drug discovery research axis relying on biology. The five Domains (protein, cell, microenvironment, aging, and coexistence with microorganisms) represent the biological requirements for people to live a healthy life, and were carefully selected based on our in-depth knowledge from research results.
On the other hand, the five Functions are the R&D functions that support DHBL drug discovery and development, and aim to incorporate technological innovations in their respective areas of responsibility to build a state-of-the-art technological foundation. The HBI (Human Biology Integration) Foundation is responsible for discovering drug discovery hypotheses based on Human Biology through comprehensive analysis utilizing AI and other technologies by adding our proprietary clinical data to genomic and pathophysiological information. The most significant feature of the DHBL organization is the placement of this HBI foundation upstream of the entire DHBL. It is named “Foundation” to represent its role as the basis of DHBL drug discovery and development.
The three functions (DCV, DEG and PPD) are responsible for screening with humanized disease models using the latest technologies such as iPS and organoids, selection of optimal modalities to maximize target engagement and synthesis of Real Medicine, safety and pharmacokinetics, and evaluation of active pharmaceutical ingredient and drug formulations.
In Clinical Evidence Generation (CEG) fulfillment, we aim to prove DHBL drug discovery hypothesis in clinical trials and obtain regulatory approval. We named this “fulfillment” with the meaning of realizing contribution to patients. CEG conducts patient-oriented clinical trials. The Human Biology data from the patients who participate in our clinical trials will become the seeds for the next drug discovery. DHBL drug discovery and development does not follow a one-way path from discovery to the clinic, but rather aims for a high-speed, unbroken drug discovery loop from discovery to the clinic and back again.
The DHBL Office takes a holistic view, improving efficiency and productivity through optimal resource allocation and portfolio strategy, making quick decisions, building a data utilization infrastructure, and achieving open innovation and advanced alliances.