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Tania Small, VP, Global Medical Oncology Head, GSK, Shares Insights on Target the Future Think Tank Challenge

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Tania Small, VP, Global Medical Oncology Head, GSK, Shares Insights on Target the Future Think Tank Challenge

Tania Small, VP, Global Medical Oncology Head, GSK, Shares Insights on Target the Future Think Tank Challenge

Shots:

  • Tania spoke about the Target the Future Think Tank Challenge and how it will advance and address key needs in the multiple myeloma 
  • She also talked about GSK’s collaboration with the HealthTree Foundation to provide access, education, and support for underserved communities of multiple myeloma
  • The interview gives a profound understanding of how GSK is delivering innovative programs to support minority patients

Smriti: Highlight how the Target the Future Think Tank Challenge functions, its approval, and the selection process.

Tania Small: Target the Future is an international, multi-year initiative advancing innovation and addressing key needs in the multiple myeloma community. To guide the Target the Future Think Tank Challenge, GSK consulted with patients and caregivers to identify major issues impacting the multiple myeloma community that Challenge entrants could address with their proposals, including understanding treatment options, getting the right care, relieving the emotional burden, and addressing disparities and inequities.

The Target the Future Think Tank Challenge panel reviewed more than 20 of the top submissions from around the world. This panel is a multidisciplinary advisory group comprised of people personally and professionally connected to the multiple myeloma community. The panel evaluated all entries based on the idea’s relevance to the challenges; the novelty of the idea, including differentiation from existing resources; feasibility to execute the idea; the potential impact of the idea on the multiple myeloma community; and considerations of accessibility across socioeconomic groups. Three finalists presented their ideas virtually and answered a range of questions posed by the panel. The panel additionally considered overall thoughtfulness surrounding their presentations and how the potential grantees planned to bring their idea to life. 

The first recipient of the Target the Future Think Tank Challenge grant is the HealthTree Foundation, a non-profit organization helping patients learn more about their health and encouraging them to become their own best advocates. Their proposal, the HealthTree Equity, and Diversity for Multiple Myeloma Program will improve access, education, and support for minority patients.

Smriti: Why has GSK opted to execute the Target the Future, Think Tank Challenge specifically for the Multiple Myeloma Community, given that GSK offers a variety of therapy options for a wide range of indications?

Tania Small: The recent significant advances in the field of multiple myeloma, including new breakthrough treatments, awareness initiatives, and patient support programs, inspired Target the Future and the Think Tank Challenge. However, multiple myeloma remains incurable, and challenges persist. GSK recognizes that addressing this challenge requires the partnership of the community because the most impactful and innovative ideas usually come from those closest to the disease, so we sought to collaborate with the community to advance the strongest ideas. GSK launched Target the Future to advance innovation in the multiple myeloma space and facilitate the development of tangible and sustainable solutions that will benefit the broader patient community.

Smriti: Give our readers some insight into GSK’s collaboration with the HealthTree Foundation. How will GSK & HealthTree Foundation synergistically spread awareness about Multiple Myeloma?

Tania Small: The Target the Future grant will aid in the expansion of two HealthTree Foundation initiatives, Black Myeloma Health by the HealthTree Foundation, and a Hispanic initiative, HealthTree for Mieloma Multiple. For Black Myeloma Health, the HealthTree will deploy grant funds to help spotlight Black patient experiences through video journaling and distribution of new educational brochures with information about relevant treatments and resources. The grant will also create distinct communities online for Black patients and caregivers to come together and support each other. For HealthTree for Mieloma Multiple, the grant funds will support the deployment of Spanish-speaking patient navigators who will help people get answers along their treatment journey in their native language. It will also create referral forms in Spanish at clinics and translate existing HealthTree Foundation materials so more patients can access and understand information relevant to their care.

Smriti: How much of an impact do you believe that video journaling, educational brochures, and providing answers in native languages will provide patients to learn better about their disease?

Tania Small: Through these targeted resource initiatives, we hope to help patients feel supported, raise disease awareness and increase education for minority patients. Specifically, video journaling can foster creativity to promote healing. It can also help clarify patients’ thoughts and feelings, in addition to reducing stress and improving their relationships. As it relates to educational materials, minority patients with multiple myeloma experience barriers to care. Providing informative resources and answers in patients’ native language will help patients feel empowered so they can better navigate their disease. HealthTree’s program meets patients where they are by going directly into their communities and offering educational resources and support that will be most useful for them. This approach paves the way for more personalized outreach and ultimately, sustainable success in reaching and helping minority patients.

Smriti: Shed some light on the unknown aspects of Multiple Myeloma that will be the main emphasis of GSK and HealthTree Foundation while spreading awareness.

Tania Small: Despite significant advancements in the treatment of multiple myeloma, challenges persist for patients and their caregivers, particularly among people of color. Multiple myeloma disproportionality affects people of African descent, and this population has two times the rate of mortality from multiple myeloma compared to Caucasians. Additionally, Spanish-speaking multiple myeloma patients have limited access to novel therapies and clinical trials.

With GSK’s grant, the Black Myeloma Health by the HealthTree Foundation and HealthTree for Mieloma Multiple initiatives will focus on improving access, education, and support for minority patients.  

Smriti: Since GSK intends to run the Think Tank Challenge again, could you briefly outline the main advantages that GSK stands to gain from this project?

Tania Small: As we continue to grow our Target the Future program and the Think Tank Challenge, improving patient outcomes remains our “North star” and central goal. We hope to continue to empower people who have novel ideas to change the lives of patients to make care more accessible and equitable, and then work together to bring new ideas to life. And we’ll continue to address the disparities and inequities that exist in the multiple myeloma space. We look forward to seeing more out-of-the-box thinking during our next Think Tank Challenge call for entries.

Smriti: Think Tank Challenge is indeed a great project! How does GSK see patient care for the Multiple Myeloma Community evolve over the coming years?

Tania Small: We’ve seen more advancements in the field of multiple myeloma in the past 10 years than in the past 100 before. After decades of research, the B-cell maturation antigen (BCMA) has been identified as one of the exciting new targets of therapy for multiple myeloma. BCMA is a cell-surface protein that plays an important role in the survival of plasma cells. BCMA is universally expressed in patients with multiple myeloma as it is part of a pathway that has been shown to be important for myeloma cell growth and survival.

BCMA research remains an important area of focus for the treatment of myeloma, but more work is needed to understand where these types of therapies fit into the multiple myeloma treatment landscape. 

We hope that with continued advancements in the treatment of multiple myeloma, coupled with initiatives that help meet patients where they are, the multiple myeloma patient community will continue to benefit in the coming years. 

Smriti: Talking about Multiple Myeloma, are there any products under GSK’s product pipeline dedicated to the treatment of Multiple Myeloma?

Tania Small: The goal of Target the Future is to go “beyond the science” and drive progress in multiple myeloma, by identifying challenges, supporting the development of novel solutions, and providing educational resources for patients and the community. For more information on GSK’s robust efforts to support research and therapies across oncology (including multiple myeloma), please visit https://www.gsk.com/en-gb/innovation/therapeutic-areas/oncology/.  

Source: Canva

About the Author:

Dr. Tania Small is the Vice President, Global Medical Affairs Therapeutic Area Head of Oncology, and Chair of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion R&D Council at GSK. She joined GSK in 2018. Dr. Small is a pediatric hematology, oncology, and bone marrow transplant specialist with deep experience in clinical research and drug development. She has done research in oncology, hematology, gene therapy, and stem cell transplantation. She has successfully led the launch of programs of multiple oncology therapies and patient-centered and diversity initiatives. 

Related Post: PharmaShots Interview: GSK’s Tania Small Shares Insight on Target the Future Program


Smriti

Smriti is a Senior Editor at PharmaShots. She is curious and very passionate about recent updates and developments in the life sciences industry. She covers Biopharma, MedTech, and Digital health segments along with different reports at PharmaShots. She can be contacted at smriti@pharmashots.com.

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