How we research

Researching the next generation of medicines and vaccines.

How we research new medicines

Our Pharmaceuticals research is focused on science related to the immune system, the use of human genetics, and the application of advanced technologies such as functional genomics, artificial intelligence and machine learning. Our research is driven by the “multiplier effect” of Science x Technology x Culture.

This approach will accelerate the pace at which we research, develop and deliver transformational medicines, prioritising those molecules with a higher probability of success and terminating less promising programmes. It will also enable us to increase our focus on specialty medicines in areas such as oncology.

Our goal is to achieve a sustainable flow of meaningful new treatments, utilising modalities such as small molecules, antibodies, antibody drug conjugates and cells, either alone or in combination.

We begin the search for a new medicine by looking into what processes in the body lead to a disease or create the symptoms. This starting point is based on both our own research and broader knowledge within the scientific community.

How we research new vaccines

In Vaccines, our efforts are centred around discovering and developing prophylactic and therapeutic vaccines to help protect people against infectious diseases. Every disease has its own characteristics and developing a vaccine to help protect against any specific disease requires a unique approach.

We invest in scientific and technical excellence to develop and launch new innovative vaccines that meet the needs of patients and payers. We balance our focus on our robust pipeline with the active life-cycle management of our existing vaccines, seeking to protect more people through expanded indications and geographies.

We have developed vaccines against 21 of the 31 diseases currently preventable by vaccination to help protect people at all stages of their life. We are advancing our adjuvant technologies designed to enhance the immune response to vaccines. This is especially important for those who tend to respond poorly to vaccination, for example immune-compromised patients and the older population.

Our investment in breakthrough vaccines technologies is a real point of differentiation. We have more than 2,500 vaccines scientists working in three global R&D centres in Belgium, Italy and the US. This equips us with a diversity of skills and culture, helps to attract the best talent, and opens doors to external partnerships.

Advanced technologies

Significant investment in a wide range of advanced technologies is central to our research. We are developing a core capability in artificial intelligence and machine learning, to enhance our ability to interpret and understand genetics and genomic data. We are also investing in functional genomics, applying techniques for gene modification such as CRISPR technology, to help discover and validate potential targets. These investments supplement our existing strengths in other advanced technologies, including our leading position in cell and gene therapy, which we continue to develop.

Improved understanding of biology is fuelling the development of novel, targeted vaccines. In parallel, the rise of digital technologies and data analytics is creating new opportunities to understand the effect of interventions on diseases. We are building on these advances by using reverse vaccinology, innovative trial designs and other techniques to accelerate vaccine discovery and development. Effectively harnessed, we believe these advances will have a strong contribution to improving health outcomes.