Image from left to right: Mikko Koskinen, Melina Malinen and Daniel Nicorici.

What is ORION’s main focus?
Orion Corporation Orion Pharma is a globally operating Finnish pharmaceutical company. The core therapy areas of Orion’s pharmaceutical R&D are currently pain and oncology. When entering the first clinical trials with new molecular entities it is extremely important that we have applied the best state-of-the-art technologies for assessing the safety of the drug candidates to avoid unnecessary harmful exposure to humans.  With TransQST our overall focus has been getting insights on the current status of quantitative systems toxicology (QST) and its applicability in safety assessment.  More specifically, we have participated in the work package of liver WP5.

How has participating in TransQST impacted your company?
Even though QST approaches are not in a routine practice at Orion safety assessment, TransQST has created ground for future exploration on the applicability of systems toxicology in translational research. The consortium has enabled us to follow closely the advancements as well as the practical challenges involved in the set-up of QST modeling.

Participation in the TransQST has strengthened our outlook on the role of quantitative modelling in the drug-induced toxicity. However, it has been an eye-opening experience how limited is the publicly available data suitable for the QST modeling. A lot of in vitro and in vivo studies are still required for the establishment of QST models for everyday use in drug development.

What challenges has ORION faced across the project?
To be able to get the best out of this kind of consortia, it would be beneficial to be able to conduct substantial amount of in-kind work with real world cases. Overall, the outcomes of TransQST may have been even more successful with better availability of the legacy data from the partner companies than it was.

One of the key values of the IMI consortia are the in-person meetings.  However, Covid-19 pandemic has challenged the work. Despite all the projects were going forward, but the lack of face-to-face meetings with the partners surely diminished some spontaneous discussions, brainstorming and networkings.

Which TransQST outcome/s would you highlight? Why?
The deliverables of TransQST consortium summarizes well the modelling approaches that can be used for exploring existing safety data, and also gives insights in the experimental data which is needed to get a further confidence on the safety of drug candidates. For us, one applicable tool is the TXG-MAPr which can be used for the analysis and visualization of the toxicogenomics data. 

What do you believe is the main contribution of TransQST in the field?
TransQST consortium brought together experts from multiple fields and generations markedly stimulating the development of the research on mechanistic toxicology. The strong network and the new tools established together with the new toxicologists trained with hands-on expertise in QST surely stimulate the next proceedings in the field of predictive toxicology.