Up until recently, most caregivers have treated diseases focusing on the properties and behaviour of these particular illnesses, with less focus on the patient. The latest technology and treatments are often present, but the knowledge of how to adapt them to the individual patient is not, at least not so far. Innovative treatment monitoring helps to bring healthcare closer to the ideal of personalised medicine.
Biomonitor, a subsidiary of the Swedish full-service diagnostics company Euro Diagnostica, has developed advanced tools for highly personalised treatment monitoring using reconstructed cells. The patented technology is called iLite™ and was invented by Dr. Michael Tovey, Managing Director of the newly founded Biomonitor innovation and development centre set up just outside of Paris.
New pathway to safer treatments
By engineering biological cells to act as monitoring machines detecting certain responses to a significant substance in the body, Biomonitor has opened a new pathway to safer and more efficient treatments applicable to a number of diseases.
Treatment monitoring is undoubtedly a very important step on the way to achieving the goal of personalised medicine. People sharing the same disease can respond to the same substance very differently. There are various reasons behind this, and some are very hard to identify using conventional methods which in turn often relies on high-cost equipment.
“What we monitor is biological drugs and they are almost always costly to produce. Therefore cost is one major aspect, but patient safety is even more important. Patients can respond very differently to the same substance, some may produce antibodies to a certain drug and some may not. Either way, the process has to be carefully measured in order to evaluate the treatment and to make informed decisions regarding the continuous care of the patient”, Michael Tovey explains.
The iLite™ technology relies on so called reporter genes, which create a flash of light that can be detected in response to the presence of a drug. This gives an indication of how the patient is responding to the substance. In creating the actual light, Biomonitor has according to Dr. Tovey learnt directly from nature and used the same genes that have been detected in fireflies. The source is the same, but the actual genes have been reconstructed of course.
“The genes already existed, we just had to humanise them”, says Tovey.
There are huge advantages of using cells as markers instead of relying on heavy machinery.
“First and foremost, no manmade machine can measure up to the human cell when it comes to sophistication. Secondly, using cells is the most flexible system available, as it is a blank canvas onto which new drug targets can be added as we go along”.
After several years of research and testing, the reporter genes are extremely sophisticated and can detect even the slightest response to a pre-programmed set of substances.
From Paris to Medicon Valley
Biomonitor has its ISO 13485 product development and manufacturing facility in Galway, Ireland. The customised reporter gene cell line and assay development is managed by Biomonitor SAS in Paris, and the GLP compliant clinical reference lab is a part of Medicon Valley, operating from the Symbion Research Park in Copenhagen. Lab services are also provided by Wieslab in Malmö.
“Setting up an innovation and development centre here in Paris is ideal. We are operating very close to a substantial cluster of biotech and pharma companies, as well as a very large hospital and research centre through which we have gained access to both knowledge and equipment. An added bonus, considering our target area, is that the centre is set up on the same road as one of the largest cancer centres in Europe”, says Michael Tovey, and continues:
“I sense a very good spirit of cooperation here and this is something that we can integrate into the rest of the Biomonitor organisation as well as into Euro Diagnostica”, says Michael Tovey.