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Prevention by the pound

Why Janssen created stand-alone group to stop diseases from starting

Both the greatest promise and the biggest challenge in treating progressive diseases lie in intervening early, before disease processes become too complex to intercept and damage to tissues and systems becomes irreversible. In many settings, basic and translational research are beginning to reveal the molecular drivers of the transition from healthy to disease states, offering the tantalizing prospect of cutting these processes off before illness even begins.

There have been numerous successful examples of intercepting disease with pharmaceuticals in cardiovascular disease, and several companies have an interception program here or there in other disease areas. But for the most part the pharmaceutical R&D apparatus isn't set up for large scale, rapid development of interventions that can interrupt the transition from health to disease. Nor is the regulatory system set up to run trials in this setting in a meaningful time frame and at a reasonable cost.

At Johnson & Johnson, the five therapeutic areas within Janssen Research & Development LLC have been exploring ways to interrupt disease processes on a project-by-project basis for several years. The TAs even have advanced three programs into the clinic: two in a precursor to multiple myeloma, and one in presymptomatic Alzheimer's disease.

Now, a new team formed by Global Head of R&D William Hait is looking to bring both focus and resources to accelerate the pharma's research in intercepting diseases of aging and lifestyle across the TAs. The Disease Interception Accelerator (DIA) is an incubator-like group charged with researching ways to predict and prevent progression to disease in at-risk populations.

The group will work in concert with the five core TAs - cardiovascular and metabolism; immunology; infectious diseases and vaccines; neuroscience; and oncology. But it will have its own dedicated team, which is expected to see some programs all the way to

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