It is rightly said by Leon C. Megginson, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, or the most intelligent, but the one most adaptable to change”. Advancement in technology and more particularly, development in Artificial Intelligence (AI) is changing the way we live. Recently, pharmaceutical companies are demonstrating a keen interest in artificial intelligence (AI) applications for various research needs. Let’s see why the pharmaceutical industry is in dire need of this technology and how it will harness the value.
Why is the Phar maceutical Industry relying on AI?
It is indeed true that Artificial Intelligence could reduce the time required to develop new life-saving drugs to a remarkably small number. Developing new medicines isn’t an easy job. It takes about a decade to research and a sum of around 2.6 billion dollars to take that newly developed drug from lab to market. And this is not it, due to the safety concerns, only 5% of these experimental drugs make a way to the market. Thus, pharmaceutical companies are investing more and more in AI hoping that it will make the discovery process quicker and cheaper.
The biggest bottleneck in developing a drug usually lies in the early stages of research. The time required in identifying a potential disease target and testing whether a drug can hit that target well is very long. The AI groups are now aiming to shorten that time. The time required to complete the whole process will then be reduced from five years to a single year. Of course, this goal is yet to achieve.
Europe’s largest private AI Company has recently reduced the time amount of trial and error needed to design a drug. The company estimated that it can reduce the time-frame from 3 years to 1 and the associated costs by 60%. The time taken to analyze images of the tumor in cancer or brain scans in neurological disease can be dramatically shortened.
How is AI being adopted in the pharmaceutical industry?
There are several categories to go about the adoption of AI:
1. Drug Candidate as a service:
Pharma companies are now taking help of AI-driven drug discovery startups. This gives them access to tools that promise the creation of drug candidates based on hypotheses and experience.
2. In-House AI tools:
This is comparatively a much harder way to adopt the new and emerging technology of AI. It demands time and money to develop internal expertise and infrastructure for applying AI tools.
3. AI Intrapreneurship:
Companies like Google and Intel are known for their intrapreneurship culture. It allows them to consistently develop and launch new products on the market.
4. Open Science Projects:
Open Science project is a valuable strategy to adopt AI based drug discovery reducing business risks to a great amount. One such example is QuickFire Challenges by Johnson & Johnson Innovation.
Whatever may be the method, the pharmaceutical companies must keep in mind that AI-driven drug discovery requires a strong inter disciplinary research team as well.
Top 3 Pharma Companies using AI in Drug Discovery
In 2016, Abbvie announced how AI-based patient monitoring platform improved adherence in an Abbvie phase 2 schizophrenia trial.
Amgen is a member of machine learning for pharmaceutical discovery and synthesis consortium. It is working with a medical research machine learning startup Owkin.
AstraZeneca announced in 2017 to discover therapeutic targets for neurological diseases like Parkinson’s. It is actively working with Alibaba for patient diagnosis and treatment using AI.