Making Strides in Immunology and Inflammation Research

Naimish Patel, MD, leads the development of one of our research areas in Immunology and Inflammation. Here he discusses his training and work as a pulmonologist and how that impacts the work that he does at Sanofi every day.

Naimish PatelAs a board-certified pulmonary and critical care physician, I’ve seen first-hand the impact a disease like asthma can have on a patient and their family. Which is why it is so vital for me to continue working in the clinical research of asthma.

My work at Sanofi is specific to the development program for one of our immunology and inflammation franchises. What we do has a direct impact on the people we serve and the physicians who desperately need new therapies to help treat their patients.

Research is especially important to me because I still see patients who struggle with pulmonary disease. They inspire the work that I do each and every day. I’m working for them, to hopefully find new medicines to help treat their disease and improve their health and lives.

I often think about their stories during my day-to-day activities. One that stands out most is a woman who was living with severe asthma and under my care for a number of years. She would be admitted to hospital every 1-2 months with severe asthma exacerbations. She was very good at making sure she took her medications, avoiding allergens, and doing all the things we tell patients to do to control their asthma. But despite her best precautions and attention to her disease, her asthma was so bad that she just could not stay out of the hospital. At that time we had exhausted all treatment options and didn’t have any more effective medicines to offer her. She was tired of coming to the hospital and one day she became sick but waited too long at home before coming to the hospital, trying to take her home medications and hoping it would pass. Unfortunately she passed away before she made it to the hospital. She was young, only in her 40s, with a family to raise. I still remember her very well, and now having the opportunity to help someone like her is the most important motivation for me in the work I do. The fact that we are now developing medicines to help people like her is the most amazing part of the job.

That’s why the work I do at Sanofi is so important. We focus on the discovery of new medicines that address the root cause of a disease for the individual patient. The promise of personalized medicine is the future for our research, and that future is starting now in respiratory medicine. The use of biomarkers to identify patients is unique among the many diseases of hyperactive immune system. These tests identify individuals that may benefit most from specific asthma drugs so that treatment can be personalized to the patient.

But this is only the beginning. In the future we hope to develop panels of biomarker tests that help doctors choose which medicine from a number of options is most suited to treat a patient with a very targeted therapy that treats that individual’s disease while minimizing the side effects that often occur with less-targeted drugs.

This is incredibly important for the patients I still see. Knowing the best way to get them the best medicine to help to treat their disease. That’s why I do what do I each day. I feel incredibly humbled about the work I get to do each day and the impact that I, along with my team, may have someday on those affected by asthma.