The UK must continue to accelerate innovation by investing in the people and platforms that drive immunological research
The therapeutic dividend of many decades of fundamental immunological research is now being realised at an astonishing pace, touching every aspect of health and wellbeing, writes Dr Doug Brown, Chief Executive of the British Society for Immunology.
The past 70 years have witnessed an accelerating journey of discovery into the workings of the immune system, revolutionising our understanding of this intriguing area of medicine. The UK has been at the forefront of this, developing the infrastructure for experimental medicine and securing our position as leaders in advanced therapeutics, whilst at the same time bringing the community together to shape the future of immunological research in the UK.
Millions of people in the UK are living with long-term diseases linked to the immune system[i]. Common conditions include Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis, as well as MS, asthma and cancers. The remarkable accumulation of insights and discoveries has paved the way for a whole new wave of “advanced therapeutics” over the past two decades, each one helping the many thousands of people in the UK and millions worldwide affected by these conditions to improve their quality of life.
However, despite this progress, many people are still unable to lead fulfilled and active lives because of the physical and psychological impact of these conditions, all of which create a huge burden on the patient, the NHS and wider society. It is essential that the UK continues to invest in the people and platforms that drive translation of cutting-edge science into practical clinical use to address this remaining unmet need. We must take all possible steps to strengthen the UK’s academic institutions and its life sciences industry that has such an important role to play in immunological research and commercialising novel therapies.
The British Society for Immunology, biopharmaceutical company AbbVie, the UK BioIndustry Association, and the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society recently came together to create and launch a vision for the future of immunology in the UK. Calling for policymakers to increase funding for immunology research, especially in areas of immune-mediated inflammatory diseases, in line with the Government’s 2.4% GDP research investment commitment, the ‘Joint Vision for the Future of Immunology’ set out to further understand the underlying causes and characteristics of the diseases, and explore new approaches to help us better support patients. In particular:
- Continuing research investment: We want to increase funding for research, maintain access to high level research and clinicians, maximise the research potential of our unique NHS and strengthen relationships across all key partners to find new and exciting ways to advance existing understanding in this area.
- Improving patient experience and addressing the unmet need of people living with immune-mediated diseases: We want to develop a better understanding of the underlying causes and characteristics of the diseases and explore new approaches to diagnosis and management of these conditions in order to improve patient experience
- Timely diagnosis: We want to ensure that we develop and invest in clinical and nursing workforce to ensure it is equipped to provide people affected with the access and support they need.
- Patient access to innovation: We seek to accelerate the introduction of new advances in treatment so that patients are able to benefit at the earliest opportunity and can live their lives less affected by their disease.
It is only by working in partnership across the UK health system that we can advance our research efforts and ultimately benefit all patients in the UK.
Join Chi Onwurah MP and AbbVie for a parliamentary roundtable to discuss the future of immunology and how innovation and advances in science in inflammatory conditions can help inform clinical practice, improve patient outcomes and reduce costs to the NHS. Thames Pavilion, 4 March 2020, 09:00. To RSVP, please email email@example.com #FutureOfImmunology
This non-promotional meeting has been organised and funded by AbbVie and is intended for MPs and policy makers.
This article has been written by AbbVie with permission from Dr Doug Brown, Chief Executive of the British Society for Immunology, to by-line the article