Immunology Innovations of Tomorrow: Spotlight on the QuickFire Challenge Awardees Advancing Precision Medicine

It wasn’t too long ago that we marked International Day of Immunology 2022 – dedicated to increasing the global awareness of immunology in the fight against infection, autoimmunity and cancer. While I appreciate days like this calling much-needed attention to such worthy causes, what I find most valuable is that they are annual – rather than a single moment in time, they act as a consistent reminder that we must never pause in our efforts to combat these threats to human health. It is in this spirit, that I am thrilled to celebrate a select group of brilliant up-and-coming companies with tremendous promise in advancing precision medicine approaches in immune-mediated disease.

Of the 30 million patients diagnosed with moderate-to-severe forms of chronic immune diseases, only five million receive advanced therapies and only two million experience adequate response.[1] Why? One key barrier to the development of novel therapies has been the complexity and heterogeneity of these diseases. Simply put, a one-size-fits all approach to treatment will not suffice and as such, the critical need for personalized, precision medicine to tackle immune-mediated disease has become paramount.

Enter Johnson & Johnson Innovation and Janssen Research & Development, who teamed up to launch the Immunology Innovations QuickFire Challenge. The challenge inspired over 100 applicant companies from across 25 countries to submit their potential solutions.

The competition was quite steep, and I am honored to have ultimately named the companies Enhanc3D Genomics, Metadvice, Flexomics and ImYoo, as our Quickfire Challenge awardees.

  • Enhanc3D Genomics is developing a functional genomics technology focused on the non-coding regions of the human genome with the aim to identify genetic interactions that are disease-associated and can be targeted for therapeutic and biomarker applications.
  • Metadvice is creating a Metadvice AI Companion for Individualized Therapy Recommendations in rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Flexomics is developing the next generation high-throughput screening platform capable of simultaneous functional and genomic analysis of hundreds of thousands of individual cells and cell-to-cell interactions to guide the development of immune-based therapeutics.
  • ImYoo, is coupling at-home blood collection and single-cell immune sequencing to enable convenient, high-resolution patient stratification and personalized health interventions.

In the life sciences, it takes a village to make the leap from idea to discovery to solution. That is why Johnson & Johnson Innovation leverages its QuickFire Challenge platform to connect with promising innovators with the aim to advance their science. These awardees are receiving a combination of rewards, including grant funding, one-year of residency at an available Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JLABS or access to the global network; and mentorship from experts across the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies. You can read more about these tremendous awardees here.

Though each project is impressive in its own right, what excites me most is the breadth of approaches these companies are taking to solve for complex immune-mediated diseases, from democratizing digital health technologies to empowering health care professionals with improved diagnostics.  The time for true precision and personalized medicine is here and is being made real by the science and innovations of companies at all stages of discovery. I believe that we’ll achieve the greatest progress in identifying transformative immune therapies for patients by leveraging a combination of approaches, and the QuickFire Challenge awardees exemplify this promise. 

Going forward, we’re committed to nurturing symbiotic relationships among these forward-looking awardees, as they join the Johnson & Johnson Innovation - JLABS network and are paired with mentors from the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies.  Awardees will gain insights on the challenges they are currently facing in advancing their science, as well as on what aspects of their technology are most appealing and relevant to larger pharmaceutical organizations, and our scientists will learn about the very latest, cutting edge of biotech from the broader ecosystem which can invigorate future possibilities. Together, we will create a unique contribution to, hopefully, get solutions into the hands of patients faster.

As I think about what International Day of Immunology 2032 or 2042 will look like, I am filled with optimism and hope due in large part to companies like Enhanc3D Genomics, Metadvice, Flexomics and ImYoo and the critical role that Johnson & Johnson Innovation and Janssen Research & Development are playing in their growth and in the broader life sciences ecosystem. Together we remain inspired and energized in our relentless pursuit of future discovery and a world without disease.

If you are working on transformative potential solutions in Immunology and want to get in touch to discuss incubation, collaboration or investment opportunities with Johnson & Johnson Innovation, send us some non-confidential information about your technology through this form and our team will get in touch with you. 

For additional insights on precision medicine in immunology and more, I encourage you to follow me on LinkedIn here.

 

[1] Includes Atopic dermatitis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, psoriasis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, systemic lupus erythematosus, lupus nephritis, Sjogren’s syndrome, myositosis, amyloidosis, hidradenitis suppurativa, graft vs host disease, scleroderma, myasthenia gravis, celiac disease. Sources include Decision Resources, Kantar Health, NIH, Journal of Investigative Dermatology, BMJ, Foster Rosenblatt research, ZS Associates, Truven Claims, Deloitte research, data on file.