Modeling the future

Roche launched the Institute of Human Biology (IHB) to pioneer new approaches for drug discovery and development in Basel.

Discovering and developing new medicines is critical to benefit society — but unfortunately, it’s also challenging, costly, and slow. Many great ideas that do well in early stages of testing don’t pan out in patients, but it often takes years to discover that they won’t work as intended. How can we speed up this process, without sacrificing patient safety? The Institute of Human Biology (IHB), which will provide important data for the discovery of new drugs, will enable Roche scientists to set out with faster and more reliable information during the transition phase of new drug candidates to preclinical and clinical stages. Tapping into exciting new advances in biology, medical and scientific knowledge, technology and data science, the IHB is a cross-disciplinary endeavor bringing together academia and industry. It is focused on creating reliable predictive models that better emulate the human body — and deploying them directly in drug discovery and development. 

Human model systems are miniature 2D or 3D living 'replicas' of human tissues and organs that scientists create from human stem cells in cell culture. They enable scientists to test potential drugs on these replicas rather than on animals, where results do not always translate well to humans. There is no doubt that human biology modeling systems are the future of the industry. These systems, which are used at every step from target molecule identification to validation, preclinical safety and efficacy studies, can even be used in personalized medicine to to be able to predict a patient's individual response. By developing and increasing the use of human biology modeling systems, the Institute aims to save time and cost, increase the number of new drug candidates, reduce the dependency on patient cohorts and the need for animal models.

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Supervisors: Bahar Süral & Naz Kocaoğlu

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