Streamline lupus patient care
with GSK GmbH & Co. KG
Disruptive solutions for early disease identification and lack of quality of care regarding disease control adjusted treatment of systemic lupus erythematosus 
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic, sometimes life-threatening autoimmune disease in which cells of the immune system turn against one’s own body. The term “systemic” reflects that every organ system can be involved. As a result, inflammation and damage occur in the organs affected, for example, the skin, joints, heart, lungs, blood, kidneys, and brain. Characteristic is the so-called butterfly erythema, a reddish rash in the upper cheek area of the face.
Today, an estimated 5 million people worldwide are affected by various types of lupus, including SLE. In Germany, about 30,000 people suffer from SLE. The disease can occur at any age but is mainly diagnosed in younger people aged 15 to 45 years, often massively affecting all aspects of their lives including professional careers, social life and family planning. Over 90% of patients with SLE are women [2,3]
The disease often progresses in flares that are neither predictable nor always look the same. Currently, there’s no cure for SLE. Nowadays, relapses are very rarely fatal, but with each flare, the affected organs are further damaged by inflammation. In particular, the kidneys are often affected, with the risk of developing a chronic kidney disease which over time may lead to a complete loss of renal function. Therefore, patients with lupus are still at least three times more likely to die than the general population.
The disease pattern of individual patients is unpredictable. In SLE, acute phases of illness (flares) usually alternate with periods of apparent health (complete or partial remissions). As a result, the quality of life of the patients is severely impaired. In addition to relapses and treatment-related infections, additional illnesses (comorbidities) contribute to increased hospital stays (hospitalizations) and emergency room treatment.
SLE is relatively rare, and the symptoms are often non-specific and also occur in other diseases. The assignment of the highly variable symptoms is usually difficult so often there is a delay of years until the correct diagnosis is made. Despite the severeness and the high morbidity and mortality in this relatively young population, many patients don’t reach the defined treatment target of remission or minimized disease activity. The patient pathway in SLE is characterized by delays in diagnosis and inadequate treatment of uncontrolled disease. The main reasons for this are:
- The missing measurement of existing disease activity using a validated score (SLEDAI, etc.)
- The non-adherence to a clearly recommended treat-to-target approach in SLE
- The lack of reflection on the patient’s needs in treatment decisions (SDM)
- High time pressure limiting physician-patient exchange (symptoms, questions, explanations, etc.)
- Underestimation of the risk of organ damage
- Lack of knowledge or misinterpretation of guidelines
- The lack of own experience with modern drugs or bad experience (e.g. by suboptimal patient choice or wrong expectations)
- Cost aspects
1 Chavatza K, Kostopoulou M, Nikolopoulos D, et al. Quality indicators for systemic lupus erythematosus based on the 2019 EULAR recommendations: development and initial validation in a cohort of 220 patients. Ann Rheum Dis. 2021 Sep;80(9):1175-1182. doi: 10.1136/annrheumdis-2021-220438. Epub 2021 Jun 23. PMID: 34162597.
2 Lupus Foundation of America Introduction to Lupus. Statistics on lupus. http://www.lupus.org/about/statistics-on-lupus. (Letzter Zugriff 01.09.2017)
3 Brinks et al, Lupus 2014 Nov; 23 (13); 1407-11
4 Urowitz MB, Gladman DD, Tom BDM et al. Changing Patterns in Mortality and Disease Outcomes for Patients with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus. J Rheumatol 2008;35:2152-8
5 Chehab G, Fischer-Betz R, Schneider M Entwicklung von Mortalität und Morbidität beim systemischen Lupus erythematodes. Z Rheumatol 2011; 70: 480-485
6 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Handout on Health: Systemic Lupus Erythematosus. NIH Publication No. 03-4178. August 2003
GSK GmbH & Co. KG
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
16 April 2023
What we are looking for:
Systemic autoimmune diseases often cause multi organ involvement and highly variable unspecific symptoms, which leads to tedious patient pathways, often lacking effective interdisciplinary management approaches. This results in severely impaired quality of life, early organ damage and worse prognosis. SLE is a rare disease, and most physicians are not sufficiently experienced in its management, which has essentially changed over the last decade. The knowledge gap and time pressure of physicians and the high need for answers and information from patients result in a huge burden for the physician-patient relationship und a huge gap in quality of care.
GSK GmbH & Co. KG is calling for disruptive, innovative solutions that can be applied to facilitate and improve disease state adjusted therapy (incl. measurement of disease activity with a tool such as the SLEDAI) early disease identification and hence treatment, for patients suffering from SLE.
Solutions could address but are not limited to:
- Diagnostic devices and/or tools to support HCPs and patients in earlier diagnosis.
- Decentralized metaverse or digital platforms to facilitate diagnosis, timely treatment escalation and others.
- Innovative tools that enable disease monitoring and support disease management to fasten patient pathways and timely treatment escalation
Easy integration in daily clinical workflow is an essential prerequisite. The solution needs to be validated with the end users (HCP), needs to be based on data supporting theevidence and showing its impact and has all required approvals.
Who can apply?
Incorporated companies with a product or technology that addresses the challenges released. At least, a prototype of the solution should exist. There are no further specific requirements in terms of Technology Readiness Level (TLR), sales, minimum investment attracted, or country of registration.
European and non-European SMEs are invited to apply.
How can I apply to this challenge?
Click on „Apply now“ and follow the instructions to submit an application. You will answer different questions about your company and the product you present as a possible solution to the challenge.
How are applications evaluated?
The main selection criteria is product-challenge fit. Applications are sent to the relevant teams in each challenge-owner, who decide which companies are selected. To increase the chances of a successful application, make sure you carefully read the information we have published about each challenge and show in your application how your product could be a perfect match. The questions in the application will guide you!
Can I apply to more than one challenge?
Yes, of course! However, you will need to submit one individual application per challenge and customize it according to the challenge.
I have a solution for a challenge, but it still requires some changes or development. Can I still apply?
Yes, the main requirement is that your solution addresses the challenge. In case you are selected, during the meetings with the challenge owners, you can clarify the needs of both parties and decide on possible changes/modifications/extra features, etc.
We encourage you to apply even if your solution only fulfills some of the requirements of the „ideal solution“ described above. Both off-the-shelf and customizable options are relevant!
Where does Start-ups Meet Pharma take place?
Mostly online, with the possibility to organize meetings in person in the Meet&Visit module.
What is the cost for my company?
None, it is completely free of charge. No fee, no equity taken. You only need to bring professionalism and commitment to make the best out of this opportunity.
Is a collaboration 100% secured for the SMEs selected?
Neither party is obliged to enter into a partnership. We will create the optimal environment for a collaboration to start, but whether this happens, and the conditions of the collaboration, will be exclusively decided by the parties involved.
However, we guarantee 100% of the selected companies will be connected to the relevant teams within the challenge-owner, will have 1-on-1 partnership exploration meetings, and will receive support to prepare for that occasion in the best possible way.
My product or solution is not a fit for any of the challenges… what can I do?
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