As hospitals and the healthcare industry work to modernize their systems into a more cohesive and flexible network, the pharmaceutical industry is also finding ways to integrate big data. More specifically, the industry is partnering with big tech giants to promote computational drug discovery.
Computational drug discovery blends cloud computing and artificial intelligence to decrease the cost and increase the efficiency of drug development. Big pharma companies are partnering with tech companies to test the approach and promote a tech-driven process when it comes to developing new medicines.
One of the main benefits of computational drug discovery is the opportunity to drastically improve the existing drug development process. Currently, this process includes a clinical trial with four distinct phases, both time-consuming and expensive, and only has a 13 percent success rate when it comes to making it to the shelves. Researchers use computational modeling early in the drug development process to increase their chances of success and improve decision making.
What this means is that these pharmaceutical companies need big partners – and they’ve got them. Moderna uses AWS as a key component to their drug research, development, and production processes, specifically on their unique mRNA platform.
“Messenger RNA drugs tell the patients’ bodies how to produce the drugs themselves, sort of like biologic software,” explains Dave Johnson, director of informatics at Moderna Therapeutics.
Back in 2017, Microsoft announced a technology development alliance with Parexel, a global biopharmaceutical services organization, integrating Microsoft’s global cloud infrastructure with Parexel’s clinical and regulatory technology domain expertise. The tech giant was also an early founder of Cloud Pharmaceuticals, a drug discovery company that launched in 2011.
“It is estimated that the traditional discovery process to arrive at a clinical candidate molecule takes greater than 5 years,” said Don Van Dyke, COO of Cloud Pharmaceuticals. “Cloud has consistently been able to reduce that to a matter of a few months.”
Google’s parent Alphabet is also in on the game. The company acquired London-based startup DeepMind in 2014 “to tackle some of our most pressing real-world challenges.” Specifically, the slow drug development process.
These collaborations show readiness and eagerness to harness big tech to transform the pharmaceutical industry for the better through faster drug development and a deeper understanding of what causes serious diseases.