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Advancing Innovation in Dermatology with Collaborative Partnerships

Posted by
Emmanuel Caeymaex, Patient Value Immunology & US Solutions

At UCB, we are committed to improving the lives of those with immune-mediated inflammatory diseases. We embrace the possibility to create a world free from the burden of chronic inflammatory skin diseases – but we can’t do this alone. Guided by our Patient Value Strategy, our purpose is to join forces with community stakeholders to advance high quality scientific research and debate, address unmet patient needs and enhance critical aspects of the patient pathway. That’s why we maintain deep connections with patient and scientific communities to drive innovation and co-create life-changing solutions.

Since 2015, our Patient Value Strategy has been the driver of UCB’s approach to delivering value for patients. Our operational model puts patients and their individual experiences at the heart of everything we do – from discovery to development to delivery. UCB has several strategic dermatology partnerships designed to obtain a better scientific understanding of dermatologic conditions, uncover unmet needs, and improve the standard of care for people living with chronic inflammatory dermatological diseases.


As part of our mission to understand inflammatory skin diseases, UCB is proud to partner on a new EU Research Project—HIPPOCRATES—to improve diagnostic and therapeutic options for people living with psoriasis (PsO) and psoriatic arthritis (PsA). The overall aim of HIPPOCRATES is to promote the earliest possible diagnosis, increase therapeutic options and improve quality of life for people with PsO and PsA. HIPPOCRATES brings together 26 European partners, with involvement of patients, clinicians, primary care practitioners, regulators, small and medium enterprises, and pharmaceutical companies. The team of experts will evaluate and validate newly discovered biomarker signatures for the early diagnosis of PsA, identification of PsO patients at risk of developing PsA, identification of PsA patients at highest risk of damage progression and for personalized or stratified treatment strategies.

Cross-collaboration is critical to improving scientific understanding of inflammatory dermatological diseases and enhance care. In line with this, UCB’s partnership with IMI BIOMAP (Biomarkers in Atopic Dermatitis and Psoriasis) aims to identify biomarkers of variation in disease outcomes to address the main unmet needs of people living with atopic dermatitis (AD) and PsO, who often experience high variability in symptoms, disease progression and treatment response. IMI BIOMAP is a partnership that brings together twenty-six academic institutions, five patient organizations and five industry partners to create a pan-EU biospecimen and data resource of high quality, multi-dimensional datasets on skin and blood from more than 50,000 patients. The data resource will be used to examine the causes and mechanisms of these conditions and will be accessible via a central analysis portal. State of the art methodologies in epidemiology, molecular profiling, skin biology and mathematical modelling will analyze AD and PsO patient data.

In addition to this, UCB partners with The Accelerating Medicines Partnership®: Autoimmune and Immune-Mediated Diseases (AMP®-AIM), an initiative from the Foundation for the US National Institutes of Health (FNIH) to dissect unique disease-centric pathways for psoriatic spectrum disease and several other systemic autoimmune disorders. AMP®-AIM will advance scientific understanding of key disease pathways using new tools to map how cell types, cell states, and cell-to-cell interactions network to cause inflammation, abnormal function, and tissue injury. The resulting data will accelerate our understanding of the fundamental mechanisms and causes of autoimmune disease, allow more informed selection of patients for clinical trials and generate new targets for drug development.

UCB is also part of Psorcast, a new non-profit, pre-competitive research study developed by the Digital Biomarker Consortium. Psorcast’s objective is to collect and validate patient generated smartphone-based longitudinal measurements of psoriatic disease digital biomarkers that complement clinical measures and monitor psoriatic disease outside of clinical visits. The Psorcast app allows patients with PsO and PsA to measure and monitor changes in their skin and joints over time. The Digital Biomarker Consortium includes Sage Bionetworks, the Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis Clinics Multi-Center Advancement Network, and several other pharmaceutical companies. Helping to improve PsO and PsA diagnosis, understand their disease pathways and improve monitoring and measurement through these partnerships is just the beginning for us, as we continually strive to create value at every stage of the patient journey.


To uncover unmet needs for people living with chronic inflammatory skin diseases, UCB partners with the International Federation of Psoriatic Disease Associations (IFPA), a pivotal international patient advocacy organization that unites, strengthens, and leads the global psoriatic disease community. Our partnership with IFPA allows us to better understand the unique underserved needs of PsO and PsA patients and support them in addressing the profound impact that psoriatic disease has on their lives, including in work, social activities, relationships and home life. 
Furthermore, to help people living with Hidradenitis Suppurativa (HS), UCB and Stanford University established a multi-year collaboration that, among others, aims to better understand HS sub-populations and at-risk groups. The goal of this is to jointly develop unique solutions that combine clinical, real-world, and other data sets — along with the required expertise — to deliver better patient outcomes. The UCB-Stanford Digital Health Research Collaborative will enable us to develop a better grasp of the various expressions of a disease and embed the real needs of specific patient populations in our science and innovation process. By understanding the key unmet needs for people living with dermatological diseases UCB can, more effectively, create solutions that place these needs at the center.


As well as improving scientific understanding of inflammatory diseases and identifying the highest unmet needs, we are committed to improving on delivery and raise the standard of care for people living with dermatological diseases. Given this, UCB has joined a pre-competitive collaboration with AbbVie, Almirall, GSK, Janssen, Leo Pharma, Lilly, Novartis, Pfizer and Sanofi to improve research into digital solutions for AD. The collaboration effort was led and facilitated by the Digital Medicine Society, a global non-profit organization working to broaden the acceptance of digital medicine to enhance public health. The pre-competitive collaboration arose from the common interest of developing a standardized “Nocturnal Scratch Measurement” to overcome these challenges. Following the year-long collaboration, during which UCB played a highly active role, the team has created a new suite of resources that will allow clinical researchers and drug developers to understand, communicate and deploy digital measurements of nocturnal scratching in AD patients.

Being liberated from the physical, emotional and social burden attached to inflammatory dermatological diseases is still wishful thinking for many patients, despite immense advances in drug development and the advent of novel therapeutics and targeted treatments. Epicensus is a UCB initiative that will challenge the status quo. For our Epicensus (Consensus and Action to Elevate Psoriasis Care) program, we have engaged a multidisciplinary council of experts—including clinicians, payors, and patient representatives—to gain a holistic understanding of the complex and multi-faceted diagnostic and treatment journey for patients with psoriasis. The goal is to drive action and initiate a paradigm shift to enhance the delivery of future psoriasis care in Europe optimizing outcomes and finally allow people living with psoriasis to experience life to its fullest. 
These projects demonstrate what an exciting time it is in the field of dermatology—with science advancing at an incredible rate—and through connecting stakeholders across the research community and health systems we can realize its full potential.

UCB’s ambition is to launch multiple ground-breaking new therapies in dermatology to make disease prevention and cure a reality. While our goals are exciting and ambitious, they can only be achieved through partnership and collaboration, ground-breaking research and the purpose-driven dedication of our UCB employees. Together, we can transform the lives of patients and evolve the future of dermatology treatment.

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