Starting with sectors like information technology, automotive industry, telecommunications, aerospace and defence, innovation has finally reached the pharmaceutical industry on a larger scale. Pharma companies filed 12% more patents in 2014 than the year before and four pharmaceutical companies made it to the list of the Top 20 World's Most Innovative Companies created by Forbes.
The growing intersection of biology and technology stands behind the increasing impact of digital health innovations on the pharma industry.
What are the main digital trends boosting the pharmaceutical industry in 2016?
1. Precision medicine
To understand the biological basis of a disease, precision medicine converts DNA into data through a process called genome sequencing. It helps researchers predict the types of patients a drug will be most effective for, and who is likely to experience severe adverse effects, subsequently enabling the development of more targeted therapies.
AstraZeneca UK is among the companies reportedly working with Genomics England on their project to sequence 100,000 genomes from 70,000 NHS patients with rare diseases and cancer. Pfizer has struck a deal with 23andMe which will give them access to their community of patients with Parkinson’s and Crohn’s disease in order to look for genetic clues to their causes.
2. mHealth sensors
Mobile and wearable devices that can track movement, take measurements and record information are highly useful in post-market studies. By allowing people to participate in studies more easily, an mHealth app can engage very large numbers of individuals in different locations. By increasing the amount of data, your pool becomes more representative, naturally resulting in more accurate results.
3. 3D printing
The experiments and their results so far show the potential of 3D printed drugs to change not only the way drugs are manufactured, but also administered. By making slight adjustments to the software before printing, hospitals could adjust doses for individual patients, a process of personalisation that is otherwise prohibitively expensive.
With their microscopic size, nanoparticles can easily travel around the human body in the blood stream and assist in the delivery of anti-cancer drugs. Medical researchers are also investigating the potential to use microscopic robots called nanobots, which can be preprogrammed to perform tasks inside the human body.
5. Artificial intelligence
Computers with learning capabilities (e.g. IBM Watson) are able to digest and interpret millions of pages of scientific literature and data. These computers can assist pharma companies in the development of new drugs and improving existing ones.
Johnson & Johnson collaborates is teaching Watson to read and understand scientific papers that detail clinical trial outcomes used to develop and evaluate medications and other treatments. Sanofi is exploring how it can speed up the discovery of alternative indications for their existing drugs.
Steve Jobs predicted the intersection of biology and technology to be the biggest innovation of the 21st century and you can be a part of it. Meet the experts presenting at Fleming.'s 4th Annual Open Innovation - Life Science, Pharma & Biotech, learn from innovative companies, gain insights from other industries, and find an ally to collaborate. Joining knowledge and budgets seems to be the most effective way to exploit the costly innovation to its fullest. The next digital trend influencing the pharma industry and the lives of many patients can be the one which arose from this cooperation.